Our New Zealand buyer Freddy wanted to share some news with you and explain what’s happening and why. I’m posting on his behalf here:
Regrettably we will be de-listing all wines from Wither Hills, a winery which over the years has become very popular with members and with which we have enjoyed a strong relationship with until recently.
We’ve been working hard this year to improve the sturdiness of our packaging, looking into which wines are our worst offenders with regards to breakage rates and considering the knock-on effect this has on member satisfaction and the cost involved internally. Unfortunately, Wither Hills’ packaging had one of the highest breakage rates by far, with an uncomfortably large percentage of all cases going out to members being damaged in transit.
We’ve been working hard to find a solution to this with Wither Hills’ parent company, Lion Co. Unfortunately, while all the other suppliers caught up in this packaging improvement project managed to find a workable solution, we sadly couldn’t find one with Wither Hills. We even considered re-packing Wither Hills wines into our own sturdy Wine Society boxes here, at our own cost, but not only would this put pressure on our warehouse team, it would also mean members would be penalised by having to pay for it by way of a higher selling price.
Member satisfaction is paramount for us and while many members have enjoyed Wither Hills wines to date, the number of breakages combined with some ongoing issues with supply mean that this satisfaction is only going to decrease over time, and so the decision has been made with a pro-active approach to make a change before too many members become inconvenienced.
I’m sure some of you will be looking for alternative wines, so we’ve put together some suggestions from our range to substitute each of the Wither Hills wines we currently sell:
This is 55p more expensive per bottle, however is the new project of Ben Glover who used to be the Wither Hills winemaker back in the winery’s heyday.
The Wither Hills Chardonnay was at a keen price for a New Zealand Chardonnay, at £8.95. It is now out of stock to buy individually but is still in a Christmas Gifts mixed case.
You could try:
The closest other NZ chardonnay in price, albeit not from Marlborough.
There’s also going to be a new chardonnay from Zephyr, made by ex-Wither Hills winemaker Ben Glover, available in late December.
Likewise, this pinot noir was at a difficult price to match, at £10.95. You could try:
Not from the Marlborough region and a slightly lighter and more delicate style, however this is still a good New Zealand pinot noir similar in price to the Wither Hills.
This is the closest Marlborough pinot noir that we currently offer, price-wise.
Again, there’s also going to be a Zephyr pinot available from late December, which is really delicious.
You might well have some alternatives of your own to suggest, and we’d love to hear them!