Our Heritage

Our Heritage

Whether we're sourcing our members' new favourite wines from an artisan producer in Bordeaux, blending Society exclusives with maverick growers in the new world, or following our instincts to scout out the best new producers from off the beaten track, we've spent over a century forging relationships with growers who share our passion for quality at every price.

Where it all began

'Foreign wines hitherto unknown…'

Back in the summer of 1874, deep in the cellars of the Royal Albert Hall, a special parcel of Portuguese wine lay, undiscovered…

The problem was, it shouldn't have been undiscovered at all. While the wines lay languishing below decks, one of a series of International Exhibitions was taking place in the grand halls above, with traders from around the globe showcasing their wares. The Portuguese growers who'd gone to a huge effort to ship their wines for the show were very upset, and swift action had to be taken to avoid a diplomatic incident: enter our founders Royal Albert Hall architect, Major-General Henry Scott and R. Brudenell Carter, a renowned ophthalmic surgeon.


Royal Albert Hall

Apparently when architects and eye surgeons collide, great things happen, and Scott and Brudenell set up a series of special lunches where the Portuguese wines were tasted. They were such a great success that they decided to go a step further: setting up a special organisation for wine lovers to try the best international wines at the fairest prices. Our objective? 'To introduce foreign wines hitherto unknown'.

Over 145 years later, we uphold the same pioneering spirit and founding belief that good wine from around the world shouldn't cost the earth.


Our History: Over 145 years of good wine

London Palladium

1902:

We sign a lease on impressive cellars in Hills Place but bottles peacefully maturing there get a rude awakening in 1910 when the London Palladium is built directly over them!

1905:

The telephone arrives at The Society and in its first year 380 calls are taken and 340 made. Fast forward to 2018 and an outbound call count of 82000.

Telephone
Arthur Conan Doyle

1910:

Arthur Conan Doyle becomes the 3266th member of The Wine Society (so our wine can take some credit for inspiring his wonderful later works, right?)

1918:

Following the theft of a case of wine from a delivery van, The Society's first on-board guard dog is employed as a deterrent! Fortunately, our security methods are less barking nowadays… (sorry).

The Society's first on-board guard dog
Delivery vans

1971:

For the last 40-plus years, our distinctive red delivery vans and friendly drivers have been a welcome sight for members all across the country, with 22 vehicles across 7 different depots covering 80% of our membership across the UK.

1975:

To coincide with our first claret En Primeur offer, we make private storage available to members for the first time. With a capacity of three million bottles, our ever-popular Members' Reserves is temperature and humidity controlled to make sure every bottle is perfect (including some bottles that are 50 years older than The Society itself!)

En Primeur
Export

1989:

Due to increasing offshore demand, our dedicated Exports team is formed, delivering cheer to any worldwide destination where there's a member in need.

1992:

The greater economies of importing wine in bottle rather than in bulk signal the end of an era for the Stevenage bottling line. The last wine off the belt is The Society's Crusted Port (which still taste very good today!)

Importing wine
Montreuil

1993:

The Society is the first British merchant to open a Showroom across the Channel in France, where we continued to trade until 2016.

1999:

Our website is launched, allowing members to buy our wines online for the first time. Since then our digital developments have included a personalised member homepage, our new Discovery pages and our online Community.

Website launched
Warehouse

2008:

The Society's new warehouse is completed, the highest of its kind in Europe. To pick from the top rack, our fork-lift trucks have to reach the equivalent to the combined height of two London Routemasters.

2012:

408 solar panels are installed at Stevenage, generating 80,000 KWh of electricity per year, in addition to other measures we're taking to reduce our carbon footprint. Peak time output is roughly equivalent to 100 simultaneously boiling kettles.

Solar Panels

2019:

To celebrate over 145 years as a mutual, The Society commissions a design co-operative to create a very special Annual Review cover and video to go along with it.


Our List

Our iconic List has been helping members navigate our eclectic wine range for well over a century. We've always championed talented artists and illustrators, as you can see from this collection of List covers from our archive. They don't just show the evolution of graphic design, which took off particularly in the 1960s, but also gives a glimpse of key moments in our history and the rich tradition of commissioning original artwork for our covers.



List cover gallery

December 1880

December 1880

July 1914

July 1914

June 1940

June 1940

February 1950

February 1950

Summer 1956

Summer 1956

Spring 1959

Spring 1959

Summer 1959

Summer 1959

Winter 1959

Winter 1959

Spring 1960

Spring 1960

Summer 1960

Summer 1960

Winter 1960

Winter 1960

Spring 1961

Spring 1961

Summer 1961

Summer 1961

Winter 1961

Winter 1961

Spring 1962

Spring 1962

Autumn 1962

Autumn 1962

Spring 1963

Spring 1963

Autumn 1963

Autumn 1963

Winter 1963

Winter 1963

Spring 1964

Spring 1964

Summer 1964

Summer 1964

Autumn 1964

Autumn 1964

February 1965

February 1965

May 1965

May 1965

Autumn 1965

Autumn 1965

Winter 1965

Winter 1965

May 1966

May 1966

Autumn 1966

Autumn 1966

Spring 1967

Spring 1967

Summer 1967

Summer 1967

Autumn 1967

Autumn 1967

Winter 1967

Winter 1967

Spring 1968

Spring 1968

Summer 1968

Summer 1968

Autumn 1968

Autumn 1968

Christmas List 1968

Christmas List 1968

February 1969

February 1969

Spring 1969

Spring 1969

Summer 1969

Summer 1969

Autumn 1969

Autumn 1969

January 1970

January 1970

Spring 1970

Spring 1970

Spring 1972

Spring 1972

June 1972

June 1972

October 1972

October 1972

April 1973

April 1973

October 1973

October 1973

April 1974

April 1974

October 1974

October 1974

April 1975

April 1975

October 1975

October 1975

April 1976

April 1976

October 1976

October 1976

April 1977

April 1977

October 1977

October 1977

April 1978

April 1978

October 1978

October 1978

May 1979

May 1979

October 1979

October 1979

May 1980

May 1980

October 1980

October 1980

April 1981

April 1981

October 1981

October 1981

April 1982

April 1982

October 1982

October 1982

April 1983

April 1983

October 1983

October 1983

April 1984

April 1984

October 1984

October 1984

April 1985

April 1985

October 1985

October 1985

April 1986

April 1986

October 1986

October 1986

April 1987

April 1987

October 1987

October 1987

April 1988

April 1988

October 1988

October 1988

April 1989

April 1989

October 1989

October 1989

April 1990

April 1990

October 1990

October 1990

January 1991

January 1991

April 1991

April 1991

September 1991

September 1991

January 1992

January 1992

April 1992

April 1992

September 1992

September 1992

January 1993

January 1993

April 1993

April 1993

September 1993

September 1993

January 1994

January 1994

May 1994

May 1994

September 1994

September 1994

January 1995

January 1995

May 1995

May 1995

September 1995

September 1995

January 1996

January 1996

May 1996

May 1996

September 1996

September 1996

January 1997

January 1997

May 1997

May 1997

September 1997

September 1997

January 1998

January 1998

May 1998

May 1998

September 1998

September 1998

January 1999

January 1999

May 1999

May 1999

October 1999

October 1999

January 2000

January 2000

June 2000

June 2000

October 2000

October 2000

February 2001

February 2001

June 2001

June 2001

October 2001

October 2001

February 2002

February 2002

June 2002

June 2002

October 2002

October 2002

February 2003

February 2003

May 2003

May 2003

August 2003

August 2003

Christmas List 2003

Christmas List 2003

January 2004

January 2004

April 2004

April 2004

August 2004

August 2004

Christmas List 2004

Christmas List 2004

January 2005

January 2005

April 2005

April 2005

July 2005

July 2005

Christmas List 2005

Christmas List 2005

January 2006

January 2006

April 2006

April 2006

July 2006

July 2006

Christmas List 2006

Christmas List 2006

January 2007

January 2007

April 2007

April 2007

July 2007

July 2007

Christmas List 2007

Christmas List 2007

January 2008

January 2008

April 2008

April 2008

July 2008

July 2008

Christmas List 2008

Christmas List 2008

January 2009

January 2009

April 2009

April 2009

July 2009

July 2009

Christmas List 2009

Christmas List 2009

January 2010

January 2010

April 2010

April 2010

July 2010

July 2010

Christmas List 2010

Christmas List 2010

January 2011

January 2011

April 2011

April 2011

July 2011

July 2011

Christmas List 2011

Christmas List 2011

January 2012

January 2012

April 2012

April 2012

July 2012

July 2012

Christmas List 2012

Christmas List 2012

January 2013

January 2013

April 2013

April 2013

July 2013

July 2013

Christmas List 2013

Christmas List 2013

January 2014

January 2014

April 2014

April 2014

July 2014

July 2014

Christmas List 2014

Christmas List 2014

January 2015

January 2015

April 2015

April 2015

July 2015

July 2015

Christmas List 2015

Christmas List 2015

February 2016

February 2016

May 2016

May 2016

July 2016

July 2016

Christmas List 2016

Christmas List 2016

February 2017

February 2017

May 2017

May 2017

July 2017

July 2017

Christmas List 2017

Christmas List 2017

February 2018

February 2018

May 2018

May 2018

July 2018

July 2018

Christmas List 2018

Christmas List 2018

February 2019

February 2019

May 2019

May 2019



Society Promise
Members before profit
Awards

Our website uses cookies with the aim of providing you with a better service. By using this website you consent to The Wine Society using cookies in accordance with our policy.

Close

4.4. Cookie Policy

By using The Wine Society website, you agree to cookies being used in accordance with the policy outlined below. If you do not agree to this, you must alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you or cease using the website.

The Wine Society uses cookies to enable easy navigation and shopping on the website. We take the privacy of all who use our website very seriously and ensure that our use of cookies complies with current EU legislation. The following guide outlines what cookies are, the types of cookies used on The Society's website and how they work.

You may alter your browser settings to turn off cookies or block those types which are unacceptable to you, but this will cause difficulties when accessing and using some areas of the site. Instructions on how to do this can also be found below.

4.4.1. What are 'Cookies'?

  • Most major websites use cookies.
  • A cookie is a very small data file placed on your hard drive by a web page server. It is essentially your access card, and cannot be executed as code or deliver viruses. It is uniquely yours and can only be read by the server that gave it to you.
  • Cookies cannot be used by themselves to identify you.
  • The purpose of a basic cookie is to tell the server that you returned to that web page or have items in your basket. Without cookies, websites and their servers have no memory. A cookie, like a key, enables swift passage from one place to the next.
  • Without a cookie every time you open a new web page the server where that page is stored will treat you like a completely new visitor.
  • More recently, cookies have also been used to collect information about the user which allows a profile of their preferences and interests to be created so that they can be served with interest-based rather than generic information about available goods and services.

4.4.2. How do Cookies help The Wine Society?

Cookies allow our website to function effectively. Cookies also help us to arrange content to match your preferred interests more quickly. We can learn what information is important to our visitors, and what isn't.

4.4.3. How does The Wine Society use cookies?

The Wine Society does not accept advertising from third parties and therefore, as a rule, does not serve third-party cookies. Exceptions to this include performance/analytical cookies (see below), used anonymously to improve the way our website works, the provision of personalised recommendations, and occasions when we may team up with suppliers to offer special discounts on goods or services.

The Society uses technology to track the patterns of behaviour of visitors to our site.

4.4.4. What type of cookies does The Wine Society use?

We use the following three types of cookies:

4.4.4.1. Strictly Necessary Cookies
These cookies are required for the operation of our website, enabling you to move around the website and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the website. Without these cookies, services like shopping baskets or e-billing cannot be provided. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Authentication Cookie and Anonymous Cookie
    These cookies remember that you are logged in to your account – without them, the website would repeatedly request your login details with each new page you visit during your time on our website. They are removed once your session has ended.
  • Session Cookie
    These cookies are used to remember who you are as you use our site: without them, the website would be unable to tell the difference between you and another Wine Society member and facilities such as your basket and the checkout process would therefore not be able to function. They too are removed once your session has ended.

4.4.4.2. Functionality & Targeting/Tracking Cookies
These cookies are used to recognise you when you return to our website and to provide enhanced features. This allows us to personalise our content for you. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Unique User Cookie
    This cookie is used to:
    • store your share number in order to identify that you have visited the website before. Without this cookie, we would be unable to tell whether you are a member or not.
    • record your visit to the website, the pages you have visited and the links you have followed. We use this information to make our website, the content displayed on it and direct marketing communications we may send to you or contact you about more relevant to your interests.
    • This cookie expires after 13 months.
  • Peerius Cookies
    These third-party cookies are used to provide you with personalised recommendations based on your purchase and browsing history. They expire within 4 hours of your visit.

4.4.4.3. Performance/analytical cookies
These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don't collect information which identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works. Under this heading, we currently use the following cookies:

  • Google Analytics Cookies
    These are third-party cookies to enable Google Analytics to monitor website traffic. All information is recorded anonymously. Using Google Analytics allows The Society to better understand how members use our site and monitor website traffic.

4.4.4.4. Authentication Cookie
In order for us to ensure that your data remains secure it is necessary for us to verify that your session is authentic (i.e. it has not been compromised by a malicious user). We do this by storing an otherwise meaningless unique ID in a cookie for the duration of your visit. No personal information can be gained from this cookie.

4.4.5. How do you turn cookies off?

All modern browsers allow you to modify your cookie settings so that all cookies, or those types which are not acceptable to you, are blocked. However, please note that this may affect the successful functioning of the site, particularly if you block all cookies, including essential cookies. For example, In Internet Explorer, go to the Tools Menu, then go to Internet Options, then go to Privacy. Here you can change the rules your browser uses to accept cookies. You can find out more in the public sources mentioned below.

4.4.6. Learn more about cookies

4.4.7. Changes to our cookie policy

Any changes we may make to our cookie policy in the future will be posted on the website and, where appropriate, notified to you by email. Please check back frequently to see any updates and changes to our cookie policy.

 

Have a question?Live Chat

Live Chat