The Story of St Austell Wines
St Austell Wines is the oldest arm of our family-owned business, founded in 1851 as Walter Hicks Wines & Spirits. From a small shop front in St Austell’s historic Church Street, Walter’s ability to spot and pick the best wines soon earned him a major reputation for excellence amongst the town’s wine connoisseurs, allowing him to take advantage of the growing trend of his age and expand the business to include commercial brewing.
The history of the award-winning St Austell Brewery can be found on St Austell Brewery’s website but it is worth noting that, despite creating the brewery and one of Cornwall’s fastest growing pub estates, Walter never lost his passion for wine and continued to supply an ever-expanding list to customers, both private and commercial, across Cornwall and beyond.
Travelling extensively to exhibitions and fairs in the capital, he continued to find wines to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets, cementing the reputation of Walter Hicks & Sons as the region’s premier wine wholesaler.
Across the years, our wine division has always been run with the same passion and desire to bring the best of the world’s produce to our customers in the South West. No more so than in the hands of Walter Hicks’ great-grandson Tim Harvey, who expanded and enhanced the company’s wine stock beyond all recognition. Tim also was responsible for the first use of the ‘castle’ from the Hicks family coat of arms which has come to represent the Brewery as a whole and is now such a strong and recognisable symbol of the company.
From the mid 1950s, regular wine tastings were held in the atmospheric candle-lit shadows of the Brewery cellars for free trade customers, showcasing the most comprehensive selection of wines anywhere in the West Country. We have an exciting video from the archives which can be watched below. One of the reasons why St Austell Wines was able to – and continues to – hold such a large range of stock is because it has its own, purpose-built bonded warehouse which enables huge quantities of wine to be stored and delivered direct to order.
The Hicks family involvement with wine continues to this day, as our current CEO and Walter’s great-great-grandson, James Staughton, played his own part in developing the business as Head of Wines & Spirits before he took the helm of the wider company. As James himself puts it, “Wine has been at the heart of our business from the very beginning and I firmly believe that Walter’s passion for it is something that runs in all of our veins. The quality of products on the St Austell Wines list is something that we are immensely proud of and we constantly ensure that our customers are offered the very best that can be found from the world’s wine growing regions.”