Vanessa Roberts has been a key part of the Crown Cellars team for 6 years, partnering with businesses like Stonegate and Providence Hospitality to help them maximise the strength of their wine offering. We caught up with Vanessa one Friday afternoon to talk about formative sherry tastings, Delboy drinks and not-so-posh nosh…
Tell me a little bit about what you do
I’m the Wines and Spirits Manager for South West and Wales, Central South, and the Cotswolds, and my role involves growing sales across the region. I also deliver training and support to regional sales teams across all routes to market – free trade, nationals and wholesale.
What is your least favourite drink
I’d probably say that I’m not a fan of Manzanilla Sherry. I find it quite dry and pungent for my taste. I would imagine – well, no I probably know – it’s likely from stealing a little sip of it from my parents drinks cabinet when I was a little younger. They used to have a cabinet full of it in the front room… bottles of it that people gave them for Christmas, and I just used to try them!
People in the wine industry often describe a ‘lightbulb moment’, a wine which made them completely open their eyes, change their view, really turned them on to wine. Did you have one of those moments, other than Manzanilla Sherry?
When I first started selling wine I was very much a white and rose girl; I thought red wines were something to be feared. I started spending time with our local wines and spirits manager and he introduced me to more wines, encouraging me to try different reds in particular. It was kind of there when my passion started to ignite. I actually realised ‘hey you know what, there are all these nice taste profiles’, so I started learning about the different fruit flavours and how that was actually translating from different grape varieties, which really gave me a better understanding. I remember thinking ‘I like these flavours as fruits, and actually I can find these particular characteristics in these specific wines’
Was there one particular wine that started this thought process?
I seem to remember it being a nice, easy-going Merlot. It would have been probably been Invenio Merlot, actually.
What was the last drink you recommended to someone?
Sloesecco. This is one that I’ve learned on virtual gin distillery tours over lockdown. It’s literally just Warner’s Sloe Gin and Prosecco. I recommended this to my sister because she doesn’t really drink Prosecco, but I showed her the combination and she absolutely loved it. The first thing she wanted to do was go and order a box of Prosecco so she could continue to drink it!
What draws you to the hospitality industry?
Probably just because it’s a fun environment to work in, and obviously I’ve worked in it a long time, so I’ve got so many funny stories. Every day is different and interesting.
A controversial one: pineapple on pizza?
Were you to release an auto biography, what would the title would be?
‘Seriously Girl, You Should Write a Book’, because I’ve been told that so many times by different people. It would just be full of wild and wacky stories of randomness that I’ve encountered over the years doing this job.
Any particular anecdotes that you would care to share?
I probably shouldn’t answer that question here!
Describe your dream night out
Well I thought about this and I slightly changed my mind. Exotic beach somewhere in the Maldives, drinking my way through the cocktail list, listening to chill out music, you know, with a Henry Cavill lookalike, but that could be improved even more by having my little dog there instead.
You’d give up Superman for your dog?
Yeah, definitely – Coco wins every time!
If you had to make the choice, what would be your last meal and the drink – or drinks – that go with it?
Taittinger Nocturne Champagne, because I really like the sweetness in that particular wine. Then, going from posh to not so posh, probably a Nando’s Portobello mushroom wrap meal with medium Peri Peri sauce. I most definitely paired the dish to match!
What is the drinks trend that you’re glad to see the back of?
Definitely FABs. Bacardi Breezer, Reef, VS… glad to see the back of them personally, although I have drank a few of them over the years.
What’s your guilty pleasure drink?
Pina Colada. I know people say ‘Oh, you know that’s such a like Delboy type of drink’, but I just actually really I like creamy style drinks.
I don’t think that it’s a terrible drink, I mean, if it’s made well…
Then you can’t judge me!
Is there a particular place that you’ve had Pina Coladas where you’re just like ‘these are the absolute best’, or do you like making them home?
Definitely when you go on holiday… when you’ve got, you know, the sunset and warm weather and waves. It really adds up to a whole experience.
If you have an on trade outlet in the South West, Wales, Central South, or the Cotswolds and would like to talk to Vanessa about support from Crown Cellars, get in touch via the links at the bottom of the page