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What happens when a big en primeur delivery arrives?


Most departments here at TWS have a blog where they share updates and interesting bits and bobs with the rest of the business. We recently had one from Alex in our Operations team which I thought my interest you guys (especially those of you who buy en primeur!) so I’ve got their permission to post it here. :slight_smile: It’s a couple of weeks old (you’ll see that from the first line!! :soccer: :broken_heart:) but I hope you enjoy it.

Wine, wine everywhere!
Posted on July 9, 2018

On my walk into work last Friday (6th) I was thinking about two things. The first thing was ‘Is it really coming home?’ The second was what lies ahead for the team today when I arrive at work knowing that the first load due contains 39 different en primeur clarets to offload and check. A mean feat indeed and not the greatest thing to look forward to on a nice sunny Friday morning. I then had the idea of blogging the whole thing because well, why not.

These types of loads are not that unusual for us but they do require a lot more planning and a heck of a lot more time to sort than your average load. We know what goes on but do you? So here’s an account of what’s involved in receiving Duty & VAT loads and what we do down here when they arrive…

The first of two loads arrives in the yard, slightly later than the booked 8am slot but just half an hour late due to traffic.

The calm before the storm

Trailer no.1

Guided into the yard by Ben (arguably the best looking member of the warehouse staff) the trailer is parked up and the seals broken. This particular trailer uses telecontrolled opening for extra security. The driver has no keys to open the doors and has to contact his company for them to open the doors remotely when it’s confirmed he is at the correct destination.

Sealed doors

No keys!!

During the summer months, and particularly for D&Vs, a refrigerated trailer is used to transport the goods from France direct to The Wine Society without any stopovers.

Nice & secure

Refrigerated trailer (reefer)

Pallets begin to be offloaded and placed in the goods in area. Due to the large number of wines, all pallets have been pre-mixed and stacked by the supplier to maximize space. It’s now our job to separate the wines and run a number of checks to make sure that everything received is correct and in good condition. Ben, Ross and Steve are the lucky ones to do this and they have the experience to handle such a delivery with high value goods.

Spot anything you like?

The sorting & re-stacking begins

This can take some time but is essential to make sure that everything is spot on for receipt into the warehouse.

During these checks the other load arrives and is off loaded alongside the first. This is also a D&V load but just three wines - ‘Nice and easy this one,’ the guys say.

Trailer no.2 arrives


All separated and checked it’s now time to process the receipt onto our system. This too takes some time as each product is again checked and details added to comply with HMRC regulations. Stock cards and pallet labels are then produced to identify the wine and locate into the warehouse.

A full yard. Quite a difference from first thing in the morning.

Put away cards & pallets labels.

Pallet labelling.

We are currently receiving around 320 different purchase orders containing about 381 different lines (132 different wines split across different suppliers) for the D&V clarets alone. Friday was just a small sample of what we do and I hope you are now a little more enlightened as to what goes on in the yard.

Thanks to Ben, Ross and Steve for your great work.

Christmas Champagne Offers are here
Keeping our cool in the hot weather
  1. I’m far more fascinated and excited by this than I should care to admit
  2. Those pallets in the warm sunshine make me nervous :smile:
  3. The blog needs a part 2. - from yard to storage and allocation!


Oh yes?


Ha! I knew someone would say this - it was my first thought too! But they’re not there for long at all - you should see the warehouse guys shifting them, they are very efficient!


I’ve absolutely no doubt! But still…


Lovely to see the whole process ‘in action’, as it were, and all the people involved in making it happen. As we’re considering our first foray into the world of en primeur (never purchased wine in that way), it’s a visual reminder of the years of joy these pellets signify! :yum::clinking_glasses:


What happens to the wine when it’s stuck on the M20, post Brexit?


Not sure if I’m interpreting this correctly, but does this mean each of these wines has been sourced from, on average, three different suppliers? If so, how does this work?


Agreed! I’d also be really interested to see a prequel (Part 0?!) explaining the stages between initially tasting the wines and their arrival at Stevenage.


I’m sensing a box-set in the making!! :wink:


Anyone willing to write up the ‘From glass to mouth’ section? I’m not sure I’m too interested in the chapters after that, to be fair… :wink:


I had to check back on the abbreviation D&V.
It means something quite, er, different medically :smiley:


If you’ve got claret in your D&V, then you are in deep trouble, medically speaking. :frowning:


Three answers

  1. the trucks pictured are refrigerated so no problem there.
  2. If the truck are on the M20 they’ve already passed border controls, unless they’re on the way back in which case they’re empty
  3. Post Brexit in the worst case EU wines will be treated the same as wines from the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand etc. There doesn’t seem to be a problem importing them and we won’t have to levy the duty that non-EU wines are currently subject to.*

(*tho’ just because the govt could drop duty, govts don’t have a good record on dropping taxes they already levy.)


Thank you @laura and Alex. As an ex distribution man I appreciated the complexity. .great photos.


Loved this post!

Certainly adds some understanding as to why TWS didn’t store in bond for members until quite recently :open_mouth:


My impression was that, given the extra paperwork required, all trucks will have to be held on the M20 or elsewhere, as there will be a clearance backlog in both directions. And refrigeration can fail.

There isn’t a problem importing non-EU wine as there are agreements in place. We’ll lose the benefit of those post Brexit and they have yet to be re-negotiated.

Does TWS have a view?



Ah yes, we are of course already making lots of plans for a post-Brexit world, and we’ll let you know when we have an update. For now, the WSTA has been a really handy source of info for anyone interested in how the industry will/could be affected by Brexit. For instance, they have a really interesting publication here which has lots of analysis and insight.

Hope this helps!

And thanks to everyone for your appreciation of this blog - I’ll let Alex know you enjoyed it and if there’s the opportunity for more insights into the life of an en primeur order I’ll try and get more blogs in future! :slight_smile:


From your pallet, a palette of vinous delights for my palate.
God bless EP and VCP. They’re going off underground, a cooler place than London Underground, that’s for sure.


Looks like Christmas morning in @DrEm’s house :tada::gift: