Tue, 25th Jun 2019
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CODE Special
Q&A with James Dawson

 

 

Who has been really influential on your career and why?

David Green from Haciendas/Bacchanalia. They were a Spanish importer based in Broken Wharf London. David hosted such a passionate wine tasting and was so engaging I fell in love with Spanish wines, especially Priorat. I adopted his style of wine tasting and format from the beginning.  Also Martin Williams from M, who has been a very good friend and mentor to me. I didn't know much about the restaurant industry and he connected me to many useful people, including Kevin our Operations Director that I simply couldn't do without.

 

When did you realise you wanted to work in hospitality?

I fell in love with wine and knew the only way to spread the word about it and the beautiful quirky wines we import, was directly to the consumer.

 

Where and how did you get your start?

My wife and I were lying on a beach on holiday in the Dominican Republic and we were discussing options to start a business. I have always wanted my own business and wanted to get out of finance and the city. She suggested that I do something in wine as I was so passionate about it. On that same holiday we met an importer called Paul and his wife Marcel. They were Czech immigrants to the UK and had fallen into the wine world in the 70s when their car had broken down on holiday in Bordeaux, and they were forced to stay and work there for a few months to fix it. I bought ten cases of French wine from Paul and hosted my first wine tasting.

 

Sum up your current work life in one sentence.

I focus on growth, our brand ethos and our people.

 

What’s next for you?

Spending more time with the business of Humble Grape, more time with the people that make the business grow. That is not only staff but the producers we import from. We will be going on trips to visit our suppliers, starting with Portugal in September this year & Germany in February next year

 

What’s your one piece of advice to someone starting out?

Keep the day job or a source of income while you build your business - it takes many years…

 

Where did you last have a great meal?

Iberica in Canary Wharf: great small plates, Spanish tapas, and friendly considered service

 

Are there any openings you are looking forward to?

There’s lots opening in Canary Wharf that I’m really excited about: M, Humble Grape and The Arts Club.

 

Who would you identify as a rising star?

Desiree Russo, our wine manager.  Her passion for wine and knowledge of all things vinous is totally infectious.




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