• Adventures in the Wine Trade
  • Adventures in the Wine Trade
  • Format:Hardback
  • ISBN:9781913141455
  • Publication Date:01-11-2023
  • Pages:224

Adventures in the Wine Trade

Ben Howkins

Diary of a Vintners Scholar

Adventures in the Wine Trade

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‘A charming, entertaining, and illuminating read – not only for all those in or around the wine trade, but also for all those outside who want to see in to what makes it so special.’
Neil Beckett, Editor of World of Fine Wine

‘I never quite understood what Ben did, but he always seemed to be in the right place at the right time.’
Simon Berry, past Chairman of Berry Bros. & Rudd

‘Ben and I have been friends and adventurers since the late ’60s, although I fancy his adventures were a touch safer and more comfortable than mine.’
Sir Ranulph Fiennes OBE, Explorer

 ‘A journey through the complex and highly enviable life of a top-seed wine merchant of the old school.’
Hugh Johnson


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Ben Howkins grew up in rural Northamptonshire, spent a year studying at the prestigious American college Amherst at the behest of his influential stepmother, then returned home to begin his working life at the local Phipps Brewery. But then, more by luck than judgement, he was awarded a coveted Scholarship by the Worshipful Company of Vintners — and so began a 60-year rollercoaster journey through the world of fine wine.

Quickly discovering that a knowledge of wine opened doors that were closed to lesser mortals, Ben had a front row seat as the wine trade grew from an elitist and rather amateurish profession into a multimillion dollar global business. This is the story of how it happened, and of the many remarkable characters he befriended along the way – people whose marketing genius was matched only by their desire to put a smile on everyone’s faces. In true vinous style, Ben’s book is sure to do the same.

  • Plumbing the depths: Ben’s valiant attempts to sell wine to beer-loving miners, which involved actually joining them at the coal face.
  • Englishman abroad: a jolly jaunt through French châteaux, Spanish bodegas and Portuguese quintas, where Ben forged many of the friendships that would last a lifetime.
  • Serious business: Ben’s career takes off during the golden age of wine and spirits marketing, when he played a part bringing many of the world-famous brands we know and love today into being.
  • To the manor born: Ben joins Lord Rothschild to help transform Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire, into one of the premier showcases for fine wine in the Western world.
  • Mád world: Ben teams up with Hugh Johnson to revive the fortunes of Hungary’s fabled Tokaji wines and embarks on a series of star-studded adventures that span the globe, from Shanghai to Hollywood.

Additional information

  • Weight 0.8 kg
  • Dimensions 153 x 216 mm
Ben Howkins is regarded as the UK’s foremost writer and expert on both port and sherry. He was awarded the Vintners Scholarship in 1963, the youngest person to receive this award, and the experience gained then, in Europe's vineyards and working with many leading vintners, inspired his commitment to educating others to the enjoyment of wine - particularly fortified and dessert wines. A prolific writer, Ben Howkins has contributed many articles on wine to consumer and trade magazines. His books include the International Wine & Food Society's guide to port Rich Rare & Red and Real Men drink Port…and Ladies do too! and, most recently,  Sherry on sherry. He is a member of the Vintners Company and has lectured for the Wine and Spirit Education Trust, for which he has served as Trustee. Ben is also an International Wine Judge, public speaker and has led many visits to vineyards in Europe and South America. He has travelled extensively to the USA and China, promoting his companies' brands. He is co-founder of the Royal Tokaji Wine Company and, as a founding member of the Tokaji Renaissance, is dedicated to re-establishing recognition for Tokaji Aszú as one of the world's greatest wines.

‘The books that taught me about wine were about places and people. It’s the history and stories about a wine that bring it to life and make it worth talking about.’

– Steven Spurrier