Hi there, my name’s Jerome Harlington. My goal is to help you discover great wines from around the world, get those wines for reasonable prices and be part of a like-minded community of people who like wine but aren’t pretentious about it. But first, let me tell you a little bit about me.
As I said, my name’s Jerome Harlington and I run a company called Trailblazing Wine. I’ve been a wine obsessive for pretty much my entire life, and for the last twenty or so years I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to work with it every single day. My twenty plus years in the industry, working with some of the leaders in the industry including Waitrose, the Ledbury and Heston Blumenthal has led me to one slightly scary conclusion: the wine industry is a bit broken.
Well, more than a bit broken. Let me explain what I mean:
I grew up living in lots of different wine countries, discovering loads of different producers and visiting obscure and fantastic vineyards. Even at a young age I was stuck by how diverse and varied the whole wine culture was. The way that wine can taste different depending on the soil that the grapes are cultivated in. The way that the bespoke techniques used by salt-of-the-earth winemakers can have a profound effect on the flavour of the wine. The massive variety in flavours, bouquets, aromas, colours.
In short, my time growing up in the wine countries helped me to understand that wine is a gloriously diverse, beautiful thing; and as I headed back to the UK as an adult, I was incredibly enthusiastic about sharing my passion for wine with others. The trouble was, when I came back to the UK as a young student I discovered that the choice of wine in the UK – and indeed elsewhere – really was not that great. I found that people had stopped learning and stopped discovering.
That the way the wine trade spoke to its customers was a bit patronising and that rather than celebrating the diversity of wine, they were dumbing it down, commoditising it and making it a whole less fun and enjoyable than it should be. But it wasn’t just in the way that they spoke about it that they were dumbing it down. Instead of pushing consumers to have a go at new things, experience diverse flavours and try wines from off the beaten track, the wine available in the commercial market was sweetened and treated to make it more commercially acceptable.
The wine industry was starting to break.
Instead of people buying and drinking the wine that they wanted to drink, they were buying what they were told to like. For the last few years, if you haven’t made wine that meets the status quo, you’ve struggled to get suppliers to pick up your wine.
Rather than take a risk on a wine that could be the next big thing, suppliers and brokers have become very safe and very staid; and the result is a wine market saturated with the same, mediocre wines that line every supermarket shelf. Having worked with some of the UK’s biggest wine companies, I can say, hand on heart that this is true.
Why is this a problem?
It’s simple really: right this very second, there are thousands of independent winegrowers out there creating wine that wine enthusiasts all over the globe would adore. But it’s not getting to those people. The powers that be in the wine industry aren’t letting it. In short, the wine industry is becoming commoditised, narrow and unexciting. Everything that wine is not supposed to be. A few years ago, my colleagues and I set out to change that. We set out to discover the finest wines that regular wine drinkers just don’t get to try. Most wine sellers in the UK tell their customers what to like. We don’t take that approach. We take the time to understand what our customers like to drink and find that wine for them. And we’ve found some pretty amazing wines. We’re discovering more every single day.
Now, we’d like to share them.
We’d like to share them with people like us; people who love wine, who want some variety in the wine that they buy and drink and aren’t going to get all pretentious about it either. Because that’s the other thing. In my experience, wine culture at the top end has become pretty snobby and elitist. And for people who like wine but don’t know too much about it, furthering their hobby can be pretty intimidating. All of these different factors have resulted in something exceptionally exciting:
The first wine club to combine the supply of exceptional wines that you’ve never heard of with a proper learning experience, enabling its members to enjoy wine and learn more about it in a safe, non-judgmental environment. The Trailblazing Wine Club isn’t your average wine club. It’s a whole lot more than that.
It all starts here at Web-Clubs, I’ll be providing you with regular videos and hints and tips to help you get the most enjoyment out of your wines as well as making recommendations so you can discover the best wines on the market as well as the best wines you’ve never heard of.