Like many of us during lockdown, Dave Peek wanted to find restaurant quality wines to enjoy at home.
However, after trawling through supermarkets and searching online, he couldn’t find what he was looking for anywhere. And so, the Marlow & Henley Wine Co. was born.
Having been in the alcohol business his whole working life, Dave has experience in buying and wholesale / distribution, and in recent years has run his own business, distributing alcoholic drinks to supermarkets, restaurants and bars.
However, a large part of his business dried up overnight when venues were ordered to close due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This led to him launching his retail business, selling wine, beer, cider and spirits to the general public – something he had never done before.
But it’s “not a stop-gap, it’s more of a strategic decision.” Dave is very keen to make sure the business is sustainable after the lockdown, rather than just a temporary venture to tide them over while hospitality businesses can’t open.
This meant he was even more careful to make sure he went through all the proper channels and set up the business correctly, which included applying for, and being granted, a retail license and building his own website from scratch.
While there have been challenges, Dave acknowledges “a lot of the building blocks were already there” from his experience with the wholesale side of the business, which has given him a slight advantage.
He makes all the deliveries himself, usually the next day, so is currently only serving the Marlow, Henley, Cookham and Bourne End areas, but may look to increase this as the business grows. However, he is focused on remaining local and not planning on turning the business into a national one. You can also now find a selection of the company’s wines, craft beers and ciders in Strawberry Grove Marlow’s farm shop.
In terms of the selection on offer, there’s a great range. Over the past few weeks, I tried some of the wines and ciders, which fitted perfectly with the variable weather we’ve had. I tried the Angioletti cider first, which is very personal to Dave as it’s actually his company’s cider and he’s been heavily involved in its production. Sat outside in the garden while catching up with some friends on Zoom, it felt almost as if I was in a beer garden. The sparkling apple flavours created a lovely taste, adding to an already enjoyable evening.
Perfect for a celebration, the Angel & Four English Sparkling Wine was enjoyed on a hot summer’s evening, celebrating a family birthday. Again, the Angel & Four is a personal favourite of Dave’s and I can see why. The smooth flavours made for easy and enjoyable drinking, while the bubbles added a touch of class to the occasion, bringing some much needed joy to these difficult times.
Meanwhile the two red wines I tried went really well with a Sunday roast, adding warmth to the meal when the thought of being outside in the cold and rain was less than inviting. I particularly enjoyed the Chateau Labarrade Cahors Malbec; the richness of which perfectly complemented the strong flavours of a roast dinner.
Capitalising on the sunny weather of a few weeks ago, the Haut Poitou Sauvignon Blanc and the Exhib’ Rosé – Cap d’Agde made the perfect accompaniment for a barbecue. Both were light and made us feel as if we were eating by the beach in a tropical country. The rosé comes in a bespoke bottle, making it the perfect gift for a friend or perhaps the ideal bottle to bring out if you’re entertaining this summer, from a social distance of course!
If this has made you suitably thirsty and you are tempted to make your own order (minimum £40) you can do this via their website: https://marlowhenleywine.co.uk/
You can also find them on social media: