It was a trip to Italy back in 2012 that really got Graeme Woodward interested in wine.
“I went away for a week with university friends having mainly only drunk (far too much) beer, and was amazed by how nice these grapes tasted…and what good value they were.
“Three months after returning home from this holiday and I had started my career in Wine Retail.”
“I then managed various Majestic Wine stores for over six years and met Michael Jelley when he joined me in the Summertown branch in 2016.
“We always got on well, sharing many a sporting tale and bonded over our love of Italian reds and rich white wines.
“We’d both always wanted to run our own business and both independently recognised the opportunity for an independent merchant here in Summertown.
“We also knew that if we didn’t give it a go, we would regret it for the rest of our lives.”
From concept to our new shop Grape Minds opening it was a little over six months, but that wasn’t the half of it…!
“It took five and a half of those months to get the keys to our wonderful little premises in South Parade.
“We were desperate to be open in time for December, and so began the 16 hour days while we called in many a favour from family and friends.
“With a day to go we still didn’t have lights or the ability to take card payments, but it all came together at the eleventh hour and we could not be happier.
“To be in control of your own destiny, stock great wines you love to drink, and to continue to meet so many brilliant customers, it’s been a journey, that may have led to a couple of sleepless nights, but was totally worth it,” he says looking around him.
“We have over 400 wines here now, over 50 Spirits and 30 beers and we have tried EVERY SINGLE BOTTLE,” he admits.
“Tough job, I hear you say. Please do spare a thought for us, but we are incredibly proud of the range we have put together, and I can promise you, we have tried well over 10,000 products in setting the store up, so you can be confident, the bottle you are choosing comes with our highest recommendation……..just don’t ask us for our favourite, because they all are!
“There are three questions, we get asked more than any other, so I hope I can answer them here for you:
1). What is your speciality?
A). Well to be honest, selling you wine, hand on heart having tried all the bottles, and loving every single bottle in the shop, we hope to be able to give you the very best advice on the wine/spirit/beer to suit any and every occasion. However, if this isn’t enough, we also import close to 30 wines already with many more to come.
2). As you are an independent, are you expensive?
A). In a word, NO!
We have expensive wines yes, but we also have wines that we LOVE for £6.99. We think we have a pretty good range of wines to suit all budgets, but for us most importantly, if the wine is to go on the shelf, it has to be a great wine for its price regardless of what that price is!
3). Do you hold tasting events?
A). YES! We love tasting eventsand it is a great way for us to get to know our customers, and for you to get to know us and our wines. We host a couple of public tasting events a week (www.grapemindsdrinkalike.co.uk) and click ‘what’s on’), and we can also hold private tastings too.
Michael is an absolute tasting whiz, he loves his wine, speaks so easily, and I am constantly in awe of how well he builds relationships with people…just be prepared to spend some money on delicious wine at the end.
I hope that has whet the appetite for a glass, so please do pop in, say hi and let us share our passion for wine and Grape Minds.