Three retailers are celebrating anniversaries
This week three independent wine retailers are all celebrating some kind of anniversary. Clontarf Wines opened for business five years ago, and was run by Ronnie and Helena Carragher. Ronnie was one of the true gentlemen of the wine trade, a man with a wonderful, dry wit. Sadly he died recently. Local boy James Tobin is now in charge, still assisted by Helena. Tobin spent the past 12 years working in O’Briens Wine, and managed several shops. “It is absolutely amazing and fulfilling,” says Tobin. “It is hard work and long hours, but working for yourself makes it all worthwhile. I always admired the shop and what Helena and Ronnie had done with it. I grew up in Clontarf and live here, so it is great to be back home again.”
The shop is small, but beautifully laid out, with a treasure trove of really interesting wines, as well as cheeses, cold meats and other edible goodies.
Red Nose Wines was set up by Gary Gubbins 10 years ago. An electronic engineer, he found himself working and living in Paris. “It was there that the wine bug really hit off,” he says. “We would spend weekends in the Loire, Bordeaux and Châteauneuf- du- Pape. Then I became friendly with a local bistro owner whose father had left him a cellar- full of old Burgundy. Over the next two years I drank nearly every bottle. The irony is that now, working in the wine trade, I cannot afford to drink Burgundy any more!”
Returning to his native Clonmel, Gubbins opened online retailer and wine warehouse Red Nose. “As the economy worsened, the value was all from the south of France, then Spain, Portugal and Italy,” he says. “Although we still import Bordeaux, the Mediterranean is a big part of what we do. We tend to work with small family places, and often import our wines with online specialist Curious Wines [ curiouswine. ie].”
This year Martin’s Off- Licence in Fairview celebrates 40 years in business. Founded by the late Tom Martin, it is now run by the second generation, brothers Damian and Declan. As part of the anniversary celebrations, they launched a series of Portrait Project beers, featuring pictures of his favourite places around Ireland. Known as one of the best places to buy craft beer, Martin’s also stock a wide and eclectic range of wines; regular readers will know that they frequently feature as stockists in this column. Last year they won the prestigious Best Off Licence in Dublin 2018.
Declan has been working here for 20 years, but really “since I was a baby. I did a lot of travelling and when I returned it was great to have the family shop waiting for me. The business has changed completely – the range of spirits, beers and wines available to the consumer is incredible – if anything, too big at times”.