If you are looking for a taste of the South West – or just looking for a well-stocked local off licence – then Chalbury Food & Wine in Weymouth is the place to stop. Now stocking more than 70 gins – amongst other foodie delights – owner Luke Mansell and manager Bethany Aston offer a warm welcome to Dorset locals and holidaymakers alike.


We are particularly partial to a pie from their deli counter whenever we call in to drop off their latest delivery, which gave us the chance for a catch-up with Bethany on our last visit.


So what’s your story and how did you come to be working at Chalbury Wine Stores?


“After graduating in English about four years ago and seeing the revelations about tax dodging amongst major brands I decided I really wanted to dedicate my energies to something that was helping the local community”, says Bethany, “and Chalbury provided that opportunity.”


Tell us how the company came to life?


“The owner, Luke, wanted to be his own boss and give local people a good selection of quality products at a reasonable price. He opened the first Chalbury Food & Wine Stores about 15 years ago at Littlemoor Road in Weymouth, and then opened this second store in St Marys Street about six years ago.”


Why do you keep stocking Lyme Bay Winery products?


“Lyme Bay products are unique and because they are not available in every supermarket they are different enough that they make a nice change for foodies, as well as great gifts.”



And what do your customers think of Lyme Bay products?


“They love the mixture of classic, traditional lines like the Cherry Brandy and the wonderful selection of Meads, but also the new, modern releases like the Jack Ratt flavoured ciders and your new Gins.


“Our best-selling line is generally the Jack Ratt 1 litre Cider Flagons, as they are excellent value for money and also make great gifts. Amongst the wines it tends to be the Elderflower and Strawberry, and the Meads are really popular over the winter. Plus lots of people love the fact that most Lyme Bay products are suitable for vegans and coeliacs.”



What is your favourite product from the Lyme Bay Winery range?


“My current favourite is the Pink Grapefruit Gin. It’s like summer in a glass – served with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade and garnished with fresh berries. In winter I love the Elderberry and Port Liqueur and the Blackbeer and Raisin Wine, which I mix with lemonade for a longer drink.”



If you were in charge of Lyme Bay Winery for a day, what would you do? What products would you make?


“I would produce a range of 20cl limited edition flavoured Gins and Rums. For example Spiced Christmas Rum, Three Fruit Marmalade Gin and a Floral Gin range with rose, lavender and violet. And if I really had free rein I would rebrand the Reserve Liqueurs as a range of Gin Liqueurs.”


There is much talk about the decline of the High Street in the UK – what do you make of that and how do you see the role of independent outlets playing a part in that?


“I think if people want to have independent stores then they have to support them. I also feel the Government should do more to support small shops through tax cuts and VAT exemptions, and they should be more robust in tackling tax dodging amongst the big brands.”


What other local businesses would you want to give a shout out to?


“Of course our other Chalbury Food & Wine store at Littlemoor Road, but also Fordington Gin, Dorset Brewing Company, Percy’s Bakery – a fab new Dorset biscuit maker – Cherry Tree Preserves, Dorset Chilli Shop and Dorset Sea Salt.”


Looking ahead, what new things can we expect from Chalbury in the coming months?


“We are always worth a visit during Christmas as we tend to have some weird and wonderful things in store and lots of locally made products, all available wrapped up beautifully in our hampers.”



 


Chalbury Wine Stores 71 St. Mary’s Street, Weymouth, Dorset


chalburyfoodandwine.co.uk