Meet the independent wine merchant Alexander Hadleigh who has been bringing a vast array of quality drinks to Locks Heath for the last 50 years

INDEPENDENT wine merchant Del Taylor knows you have to stay ahead of the game to offer the very best.

Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 6:27 pm

That’s why her shop, Alexander Hadleigh in Locks Heath, has been the go-to independent merchant for fine wine and spirits for the last 50 years.

Offering everything from vegan wine to gins and preserves produced on the doorstep and great tasting notes on every bottle of wine in store, the business has adapted through the decades to keep up with demand.

Founded in 1972, Alexander Hadleigh first started supplying select customers before setting up as a limited company in 1984 and selling wholesale to restaurants and hotels.

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Del Taylor of Alexander Hadleigh Wine Merchants. Photos by Alex Shute

As the business developed, Del decided to open a wine shop in Locks Heath Shopping Centre in July 2000 – and it has been trading from there ever since.

Stocking one of the most extensive ranges of alcohol across the area, the award-winning shop offers fine wines, local gins, vodkas, rums, and whiskys, as well as liqueurs, brandy, fortified wines and a growing selection of beers and ciders from local breweries.

Del likes to stock as many local products as possible, extending from Hampshire through to Sussex and Dorset.

She said: ‘We have a massive range of local products. These are great to include in our ready-made and bespoke Christmas hampers, which we make up with anything from English wines and spirits to chutneys, pates, specialist jams, curds and marmalades.

Live Love Local, a campaign to get shops and businesses across Fareham’s towns and villages buzzing in the run-up to Christmas. The campaign is designed to help the area’s diverse range of unique, independent shops and food and drink businesses bounce back after the challenges of the pandemic and rally against competition from online and out of town shopping. It is supported by Fareham Borough Council through the European Regional Development Fund. For information on traders, gift guides, events and latest news see www.livelovelocalfareham.co.uk

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‘We are well known for our malt whisky and have branched out to include English ones as well – we sell a lovely one from Yorkshire.

‘We change our displays frequently to show off different produce. Recently, we have done a big focus on riojas and vegan wines and will have our Christmas displays and top recommendations soon.’

Del and her two members of staff are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate - there are comprehensive tasting notes underneath everything on the shelves.

Del Taylor of Alexander Hadleigh Wine Merchants. Photos by Alex Shute

‘We have a very tactile shop,’ she said. ‘People like to see the wines – they pick up the bottles and look at the labels. People can go to supermarkets, but generally there’s nobody there to tell them what to drink with a particular course at a dinner party.

‘We have lots of people who come in and say, I’m having this, what do you suggest? That’s what we’re good at. It’s very nice when people come back and tell you that what you’ve recommended is perfect!

‘We have a wine club, which is free to join. Members get discounts and are invited to tastings. We haven’t been able to have those for the last two years, but we’re looking to reinstate them in one way or another.

‘From mid-November, we will start opening every Sunday in the run up to Christmas, so we will probably have a selection of different wines for people to try that would be perfect for the festive season.’

Lockdown was an incredibly difficult time for everyone, but Del adapted by expanding the shop’s free delivery service to keep the link with her customer base.

She said: ‘It kept us so busy - at one stage I would close the shop at five and then do two hours of delivery on my way home!

‘It was about reinventing ourselves for that period, and although many have gone back to their old ways, a lot of people have stayed loyal.

‘They know they will find something a bit different here, and we try to be as exclusive as we can. Our customers like to come in, have a chat, and choose something personally. It really is so much better than just shopping online.’

For more information, go to ahadleigh-wine.com

Live Love Local is a campaign to get shops and businesses across Fareham’s towns and villages buzzing in the run-up to Christmas.

The campaign is designed to help the area’s diverse range of unique, independent shops and food and drink businesses bounce back after the challenges of the pandemic and rally against competition from online and out of town shopping.

It is supported by Fareham Borough Council through the European Regional Development Fund.

For information on traders, gift guides, events and latest news see www.livelovelocalfareham.co.uk