Tell us who you are and what you do
I am Emma Robson, co-founder of Bat and Bottle Wine Merchants, a small but sassy business that specialises in importing wine from Italy. Don’t expect to see Bat and Bottle wines appear on the supermarket shelves - in fact, don’t expect to see most of them outside of our eclectic wine list. Since 1994, my husband Ben and I have been seeking out artisan producers, small scale wineries, oddities and surprises, to offer wine drinkers truly individual wines.
All my other efforts are put into bringing you these extraordinary wines at reasonable prices.
Why do you do what you do?
I love my life - I tell friends that I don't work! I simply go the warehouse and 'do stuff', or I'm in Italy! To be honest I found Ben's passion for wine really annoying back when we were 19 and lived on a student budget! However, love conquers all and Bat and Bottle was our honeymoon baby, conceived in 1993 ... and we remain as passionate now as we were then, just a lot better informed and more specialised.
What makes your business special?
The wines we buy do not have to be unusual or autochthonous, but it does help, the list of grapes on our website is most unrecognisable! Our policy is to find customers for our wines rather than wines for our customers; the result is a very personal wine selection, a genuine reflection of our tastes. Our personalities are reflected in everything - we are both professional and authentic without any excessive seriousness.
What is your most popular seller?
Our 'house' prosecco Vigna del Cuc - the first 10 cases we shipped back in 1996 took us a whole year to sell! We continue to search but still have not found a better prosecco for the price (£13.50), the Cuc's consistency in quality has been unfailing.
Tell us something most people don't know about you or your business
Bat and Bottle is fairly unique as a wine merchant because we buy directly from our producers (ie the farm) and sell directly to people who enjoy wine - (ie, normal people - you and I) with a few discerning restaurants in addition. Bat and Bottle is a way of life for Ben and I: We operate out of a warehouse in Oakham, we sell in person, through tastings, phone conversations, email, our website (batwine.uk) and are open as a warehouse/shop whenever we are in, holding once-a-month Saturday tastings for people in, around and visiting our very own, gorgeous Rutland.
What is your favourite meal?
I love food, I eat far too much and enjoy just about everything (although I struggle with tripe). For me, meals are more about the people I share a meal with and the relationships that form around a table, so my favourites are families and friends.
What is your favourite drink?
I also love my drink! From being a wine merchant who is a member of CAMRA to loving a good cocktail! Good ingredients are key. When cornered, I will order a ginger beer with real kick, or my old-faithful: 'Vigna del Cuc' prosecco.
Is this your full time job and if not, what else do you do?
This has been a full time job for the pair of us for 22 years. When we have had a bad year, I have doubled up as a book-keeper or office manager for other companies in addition.
Anything new in the pipeline?
Our proper babies have now grown up and the youngest has just left for university this month. We have always said that will be when Bat and Bottle will have its wings unclipped and be able to fly ...
This winter we are either holding or attending more nation-wide events: Cardiff, Edinburgh, London - next year there will be far, far more. If you would like to be kept informed of our offers and events, please subscribe to our newsletter through this link: http://eepurl.com/rg9b1
You can purchase tickets to the wine exhibition HERE
Tickets cost £6 and you can gain entry from 11am - 6pm. Re-admittance is allowed. On the day you can sample wines from all over the world and this year we also have Puddingstone Gin Distillery.
Our friends from The Wine Education Company will also be at the wine festival giving 10 minute wine school talks and will give you the fundamentals of wine in a precise and condensed format.