THE Journal’s resident wine expert is teaming up with a former prison doctor to launch a business that will give wine enthusiasts the chance to visit some the world’s most exotic vineyards.
Newcastle-based Vine Visit, to be launched by Helen Savage and Dr Jamie Harrison, will initially provide four and seven night breaks at destinations such as Bordeaux and Burgundy, with plans to extend the destinations to Chile and Australia.
Helen has been a columnist for The Journal for more than 20 years and teamed up with Jamie after meeting him at a friend’s dinner party around 12 years ago.
She said: “I always learn most about wine when I’m able to meet people who make it, in their own place, surrounded by the vines. And I’m looking forward to introducing others to the joy and excitement of visiting vineyards.”
Although Helen has been a wine buff for most of her life, the venture is somewhat of a departure from Jamie’s usual line of work, with the GP ending his role at a surgery in Durham’s Frankland Prison in order to concentrate on the business.
Jamie, who is a general practioner in Belmont, just outside Durham, said: “The new business is certainly different for me but I am looking forward to it. More people these days are looking to go on niche activity holidays rather than sit around all day on the beach. We cater for that and provide an education as well as a relaxing experience.”
The business hopes to turnover £180,000 by booking 12 trips during the period and plans to increase sales year-on-year. It also plans to build up a dedicated sales force and establish an office in the region within two years of trading.
The pair hope this growth will be facilitated through its partnership with Adnams brewery, which will advertise Vine Visit throughout its outlets in East Anglia.
Helen and Jamie are hosting a launch party for the business at the Biscuit Factory tonight, from which day information on up and coming wine holidays will be made available at www.vinevisit.com
Jamie hopes the business will go some way to improve the wine drinking experience for its customers. “Hopefully these trips will show people there is more to wine than what is stocked on the supermarket shelves. I also want it to show that appreciating good wine is no longer an elitist past time but that it is open to all.”
Helen’s wine column can be found in The Journal every Friday in the Taste of the North-East pull-out.