29th June 2021
A creative passion for wine
David Rowledge, described by Essential magazine as ‘a corkscrew wielding prop forward of a man’, has always had a passion for wine. His inexhaustible knowledge, creative expertise and international contacts have made his Suffolk-based company, Alchemy Wines, the chosen supplier for some of the most high profile outlets in the world.
From China and Japan to the USA, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Europe, his distinctive selection of Alchemy Wines have become sought-after favourites. In 2010, 80% of sales were in the UK. But gone are the days of selling a million cases of wine to supermarkets at low margins. Now international sales have rocketed, while the home market accounts for only 3%.
This huge change has been driven by founder and managing director, David Rowledge. He has worked in wine since 1989, first with Greene King and Adnams, travelling internationally to learn first hand from top wine producers, before setting up Alchemy in 2002.
His close relationships with vineyard owners in France, Spain, Italy and Australia have developed into creative partnerships to produce world-leading wines such as a Carignan from the south of France from vines that are 100 years old. The bottles even have the GPS location so you can visit the vineyard and meet winemaker Boris Kovac! A Tempranillo, from a single vineyard in Spain, is also from 100-year-old vines.
“I want to give something back when I buy something as a consumer. This appeals to millennials (born between 1980 &1995) and younger consumers aged from 18 to 25. We developed zero-alcohol tea-infused wines for our Community.Co label that give 25p from each bottle to NHS charities. We work with the Vocation Brewery in Halifax to raise funds for The Drinks Trust and created a new Clarets’ Claret for Burnley FC, along with events locally, for Prostate Cancer UK.”
David Rowledge, managing director, Alchemy Wines
Taking classic grapes from 13 different growers and giving some a New World twist to create a distinctive drinking experience is part of what makes the Alchemy brand unique. Using oak barrels is one secret. A D&B Sauvignon Blanc was barrel fermented, a one-off that wowed the market. Curiosity, invention, flexibility and agility are all elements of the company’s success.
Alchemy Wines were of the first companies to move into the Masterlord Office Village. David bought his Beta unit because of its location close to the A14. He added storage locally for stock, now selling by the container load all over the world and through Virgin Wines in the UK.
Apart from creating consistently delicious wines for clients worldwide, there’s much more to Alchemy. It’s about ideas.
“Selling wine is about telling stories. Coming up with new ideas is always exciting. Whether it’s glamping wines in pouches for Japan, new cardboard wine bottles made locally in Wickham Market, a new Kure Oxygen bottled water product, or teaming up with a leading sports personality to create a new range of popular wines, I’m always looking for fresh opportunities.”
David’s enthusiasm takes him on adventures like climbing Kilimanjaro for EACH. Working through the pandemic, the hotel and export business dried up as vineyards and hospitality closed down. So he turned to online sales from his warehouse of wines – a business lifesaver. “You learn as much on the back foot as you do on the front foot in business,” he adds.