For those of you who would like to know more about me, here’s some highlights of my journey.
Some early highlights and upcoming milestones:
- June 2019: Final exam for my WSET L4 Diploma.
- May 2019: It’s Just Grape Juice starts recording.
- March 2019: Judging panel, London Wine Competition, alongside several MWs and top restaurant sommeliers.
- December 2018: Appearance on BBC Radio Bristol with Claire Cavanagh discussing Christmas wines (listen).
- November 2018: Novel Wines expands list to over 200 wines and adds permanent spirits selection.
- November 2018: I’m invited to do a CEO interview with Total Guide to.
- September 2018: Novel Wines trials a new unique spirits selection to much acclaim.
- September 2018: Novel Wines celebrates 2 years of trading with 300 guests at the Annual Tasting Party in Bath.
- September 2018: Appearance on BBC Radio Bristol with Jonathan Ray for ‘Happy Hour’ (listen).
- August 2018: I joined the PHI Group spirits team to consult on the launch of Strawbar to the UK market. More on this soon.
- May 2018: Novel Wines receives private investment and expands to 4 members of staff and over 150 wines.
- May 2018: Getting a bit busy, I decided to leave my role at the Federation of Small Businesses to focus on BFW and Novel Wines. I’m still a member though.
- May 2018: Appearance on BBC Radio Bristol with Jonathan Ray for Spring Bank Holiday (listen).
- March 2018: I’m invited as a VIP guest to the Trinity Mirror’s Fast Growth 50 awards at Ashton Gate in Bristol, where I meet headline speaker Nick Hewer. That was cool.
- January 2018: After working with Bath Spa University, University of West England and several sixth forms, I decided to set up a private consultancy offering business support for enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship in higher education.
- December 2017: Appearance on BBC Radio Bristol with Laura Rawlings for the drive time show, talking about cheese and wine matching (listen).
- November 2017: My role in the Federation of Small Businesses changes to Food, Drink & Hospitality Ambassador for the Bath area.
- October 2017: I talk about Painted Wolf Wines on Made in Bristol TV’s The Crunch show (watch). This was a fun one.
- Summer 2017: Novel Wines reaches the semi finals of the Santander Award.
- May 2017: Novel Wines helps its partner charity, FRANK Water, raise over £7,000 at an event in Bristol (donate to FRANK Water here).
- March 2017: I talk about Novel Wines on Made in Bristol TV’s The Crunch show (watch). It’s my first time on telly, so excuse the nerves.
- February 2017: The Young Entrepreneurs Networking Association names me as one of their Future 15 Entrepreneurs to watch, alongside another Ben who owns Gym Shark.
- January 2017: We create the marketing strategy and website for a new company, Vivendi Wines, specialising in Croatian and Mediterranean wines.
- January 2017: I am the youngest person to join the committee of the West of England Wine and Spirits Association (WEWSA).
- 2016: Somewhere in the crazy of this year I passed the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level 3 with Merit.
- December 2016: I get engaged to Niamh Harkett, a beautiful, supportive, amazing person.
- September 2016: Novel Wines launches trading with a big tasting party at the Hilton Hotel, Bath, where over 200 guests buy tickets to celebrate.
- August 2016: Having achieved my personal licence, I can now legally sell alcohol. Yay!
- August 2016: Novel Wines’ launch is featured in the drinks business magazine.
- September 2016: Alongside David Bird MW, I am invited to judge the Mercian Vineyard Association wine awards.
- July 2016: I take a side-job as a wine writer for Drink Me Magazine, focusing on unusual wines.
- June 2016: The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) short-listed me as a finalist in the Aspire Freelancer Awards for my work with Ben Franks Wine.
- June 2016: In 28 days, 47 people help Gyorgy and I crowdfund £5,162 to fund Novel Wines.
- April 2016: A big month. I met Gyorgy Zsiga and together we founded the company Novel Wines Ltd. Over a pint I spilled my ideas for a retailer specialising in unique wines and asked Gyorgy to handle logistics as 50/50 partners. He was keen, the rest is history.
- January 2016: On a wine journo high, I start a weekly wine column for tourist site Bath.co.uk, which lasts until August 2016.
- December 2015: As a Christmas gift, I’m invited to become a guest wine writer for Bath Life Magazine and, later, Crumbs Magazine.
- July 2015: After 5 amazing years, I stood down from my role as MD of Pie Magazine and Pie Media House to focus on the wine trade. After I left, the mag and media business lasted 2 more years before the whole site crashed beyond saviour in 2017.
- June 2015: I take a job as Media and Communications Manager for Tucking Mill Self-Catering in Bath. During my nearly 3 years here (I left in December 2017), the company won the 2016 Luxury Travel Guide for Best UK Self-Catering and was rated ‘Excellent’ for all its properties on TripAdvisor.
- June 2015: After interviewing lots of English vineyard owners I begin to guest write for UK Vine Magazine, writing about English wines.
- June 2015: Having almost forgot I was at Uni busying myself with other things, I finally graduated from Bath Spa University with a 2:1 in English Literature and Creative Writing.
- March 2015: To my general amazement I passed the Wine & Spirits Education Trust Level 2 with Distinction.
- January 2015: After spending so long at Waitrose selling wine I decide to set-up Ben Franks Wine, offering private wine tasting events and wine sales consultancy for the on-trade. I made my mind up to do this after interviewing Sam Lindo at Camel Valley in Cornwall and discovered that people in the wine trade are lovely. Also, I had a taste for it at this point.
- 2014: Pie Magazine has its biggest year with hundreds of thousands of global readers and over 150 volunteer young writers. However, no attempts are made to monetise the online mag. My bad.
- August 2014: I was hired as a guest writer on beer and cocktails for Peppermint Bars & Events. As a student, this was a cool job. I got paid a wickedly-poor £15 per article.
- June 2014: In an interesting twist, I’m asked to join the Federation of Small Businesses as their first ever Student Ambassador, later becoming a Connector encouraged with engaging young entrepreneurs.
- February 2014: Four years too late, I do some work as a freelance journo for The Bath Chronicle.
- September 2012: Aspiring to be a journalist, I started my HE at Bath Spa University studying English Literature and Creative Writing. I would later meet my fiancé.
- PS. I have not left Bath since moving here from Salisbury in 2012. It’s such a beautiful city and Bristol is on your doorstep. I am very lucky to be a Bathonian!
- September 2011: I’m 17 but in an interview for a part-time job at Waitrose in Salisbury, I’m keen to learn something new – so the manager starts me on the wine department. Following this, I go on to work in wine, beer and spirits for Waitrose for over 4 years, leaving in November 2015.
- February 2011: To save on printing costs, I ditched the printed version of Pie Magazine and launched an online website. This was to become one of the best decisions I ever made as I spent the next 5 years learning everything from WordPress to copy-writing.
- September 2010: After being rejected the opportunity to write for The Salisbury Journal, I set up Pie Magazine, an entertainment mag aimed at young people. I called it ‘Pie’ because I was struggling to name the mag and at the end of the day settled on the fact I like pies.
- May 2010: Having joined a forum site for over 25,000 young writers called Young Writer’s Society, I set-up a new section called YWS News. The aim was to create a space for aspiring journos.
- Aged 11, I am set on a life goal: whatever I do, I want to write.
- Sometime in 2001: Much to mum’s glee, I wrote my first (and only) picture book. It was called ‘The Icey Day’ (spelt like that) and featured a dog who can talk and gets trapped in an ice cube. 17 years later, my mum and dad had cleaned it up and got it printed as an actual book, which was given to me at Christmas 2018.