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Geordie Willis is creative director at renowned fine wine and spirits merchants Berry Bros. & Rudd in St. James’s Street, Pall Mall. Founded in 1698, it is the UK’s oldest family-run wine merchant and supplier of wines to the royal family. As the eighth generation of the Berry family to work in the company, Willis looks after all aspects of design, from print and publishing to photography, labels and interior design. He previously worked in magazines and for a design agency, as well as doing a stint in Asia working out of Berry Bros. & Rudd’s Hong Kong office.
The world of wine is very much about story telling, it has been a wonderful opportunity to apply my background in design and branding to a firm that is so rich in history.
It was his ancestor, Charles Walter Berry, who cemented his love of wine, imparting to a young Willis the view that the role of the wine merchant is to be “the closest link between those who make the wine and those who drink the wine”. Says Willis: “I’ve always loved the stories behind each individual wine and the people that make them. There is so much more to wine than the bottle and the label. My grandfather Anthony Berry was also a great influence, he helped demystify wine and make it accessible to me.”
A look at the company’s Instagram account demonstrates Willis’s talent in bringing these elements together and keeping Berry Bros. relevant to all ages, with pictures of the newest restaurant hotspot, comfortably sitting alongside a 1996 Chateau Haut-Brion and 1970 Taylor’s Vintage Port; from queuing for an hour to squeeze into the former and patiently waiting 46 years to crack open the latter, wine lovers of all ages – and all budgets – flock to the treasure trove in Pall Mall.
- I don’t think that it’s possible to separate wine and food, it’s such a symbiotic relationship. I’m very fickle, I tend to fall in love with the wines of a region that I’ve recently visited. The simplest food matches are often the best, a wine from the Jura with a piece of Comté or oysters with a young Chablis.
- My grandfather’s advice was always “everything in moderation”. Drinking wine with the right people is often as important as what’s in the bottle.
- I’m partial to a Negroni and the occasional Martini. Particularly when they’re made with our No3 London Dry Gin by Alessandro Palazzi at Dukes Hotel opposite our St James’s Street shop.