Society is a vintage organisation

THERE is enough wine stored away within the Wine Society s three warehouses to have a stunning Christmas party . Or so says Pierre Mansour, one of the society s six buyers who select wines for its 90,000-plus members from around the world. And because th

THERE is enough wine stored away within the Wine Society's three warehouses to have "a stunning Christmas party".

Or so says Pierre Mansour, one of the society's six buyers who select wines for its 90,000-plus members from around the world.

And because the society is a non-profit making organisation - in fact it is the world's oldest co-operative wine club being founded in 1874 - it can leave many of its wines to just mature on its shelves.

The society, which is based in Gunnels Wood Road in Stevenage and currently employs approximately 180 people, prides itself on being owned solely by its members.

For them, its six buyers visit winemakers and taste their wines in order to choose the best they have to offer.

Mr Mansour explains: "I am one of a team of six buyers who between us select wines from around the wine producing world.

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"Each of us is responsible for a particular area, for example, mine are Australia, New Zealand, California and Lebanon.

"We spend most of our time travelling, tasting and negotiating."

Once wines are selected they can then end up in Stevenage, where the society moved from London in 1965.

The society even has its own label which includes a collection of affordable wines.

"Our best wines and most popular ones are our own label range of wines," Mr Mansour said.

Could he recommend any wines for new members?

"Tasting delicious at the moment is the society's Chilean Merlot, the society's French Full Red, the society's New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and its White Burgundy."

At the Stevenage site, in addition to warehouses, is a shop which is open to the public - though you have to be a member to buy - you can join at the shop.

So what about membership? Well, for a lifetime it stands at a rather impressive £40, with no annual fees, and for that membership you have access to over 1,000 different wines, 130 tastings and events and plenty of other services such as cellar storage.

According to Mr Mansour: "As a co-operative business we measure success by member satisfaction rather than profit, so you can be sure that you are buying the best quality wines at reasonable prices.

"This year, especially for Christmas, we are offering any new members who sign up before the end of the year a £25 credit on their account."

Once a member you can also visit the cellar showroom which includes a members' tasting area and the vintage room, a temperature-controlled room housing a selection of fine and rare wines.

For more information on the society, or to become a member call 01438 741177 or visit

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