Where did you first develop an interest in wine?
With my ex husband. He had a lot of interest in both collecting and drinking all types of wine; that started my steady climb to tasting and reading as much as I could on the subject.
Where was your first job?
A small private wine merchant in Cheltenham called the 'Sherry Bar' in 1973. How things have changed. It was hilarious, no Christian names and the boss Ray Hughes used to arrive like a whirlwind and promptly count the cobwebs on the shelves. We were then put to work cleaning all the bottles. It was good; we learnt the hard way - not to be afraid of hard work.
Describe your role in the OWC
Basically, sales. But have come to be a sort of 'all sorts of things' person. It's great. I visit the office once a week to catch up on everything, sometimes its difficult because all concerned are usually up to their eyes in something so, I stand around and try to look intelligent or else I might be lucky enough to meet my boss Ted on his way out somewhere. He smiles, says hello and then in a flash is gone! It's tough at the top..
What recent trends have you spotted amongst your customers?
They are much more discerning than they used to be, they are not only looking for better wines but also a level of service that the big companies can't or won't give. If any of my clients have problems on a weekend I am there for them, even on a Sunday; it counts for a lot if they know that.
What is the worst bottle of wine you have ever tasted?
I was on holiday in Tunisia and sat down to a real first class meal, ordered a bottle of the local red. I was informed it was of best quality... I took one mouthful and wanted to throw up. I hung on, not wanting to offend the waiter, went to the room and promptly had violent indigestion. What it was, I can't remember, thank God!
And the best?
Without a doubt, a bottle of 1976 Richbourg Domaine Romanée Conti obtained from the company I worked for as a staff 12 bottle box going cheap. I have to admit I didn't let on. Vowing not to open it, it stayed put until the winter of 1993. A good friend of mine turned up on the doorstep, the fire was lit, food cooked and the wine tasted. The warmth, the richness, the reserves of flavours was stunning and I felt quite sad that only the two of us tasted this miracle. I have never forgotten my Romané, rather like a first love, it was special.
If you weren't in the wine trade, which career might you have chosen?
This is a tough one to answer. There are a few things I would have loved to do. Dancing was one of my passions. Treading the boards - my ex was an actor, but long before I met him I was into stage work of all descriptions, again learning the hard way. I had the chance to study at RADA but in those days father had the last word and it was NO. My other interest is cooking, I would like to have trained as a chef, however I have ended up in the wine trade and I love it.
Who would you invite to a dinner party and why?
If I had to invite certain people for a perfect dinner party two of them have now passed away. The late Peter Ustinov whom I was lucky enough to know was the ideal guest; he was interesting, funny and very caring toward his hosts. Then there would be an old friend of mine who was a racing driver in the 'real' days of the sport. The tales he could tell, he was good for a laugh. I would mix with and match with my everyday special friends who are all good company and that would include my boss Ted who I think would enjoy himself and my food.
What will you drink this weekend?
As I will be visiting, I don't know. The host is also in the wine trade so it should be good.
What interests do you have outside wine?
Walking my little dog, Phoebe over the Cotswold Hills, enjoying good food and good friends and reading.