Hello! I’m Tara Neil, owner of The Alternative Wine Company.
I’m an ex-supermarket wine buyer who retrained as a winemaker - and when I am not chasing my children around Thornfield Park or walking my dog, I am busy sourcing wines from around the world that I believe represent great value for money, regardless of the price point.
I am passionate about wine and about helping people to find wines that they will really savour and enjoy. If you are looking for new and interesting wines to try then you have come to the right place!
People often ask how I ended up working in the wine trade so, just in case you are interested, I have included a bit more detail on my journey into wine below…
Wine has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember – although for the first 20 years of my life it was mainly demi johns of my Dad's homemade wine bubbling away in the corner of the garage!
My lightbulb moment came whilst studying for a Master’s degree in Paris when a friend persuaded me to enrol on a ‘History of Wine’ course (‘just for fun’). I suddenly realised that people actually made a living drinking wine. The rest, as they say, is history….
Turning down the offer of a teaching job in Paris, I returned home to the UK to work out how to get a job in the wine trade. Three months later, I started my first job as a trainee manager at Majestic Wine.
Whilst at Majestic, I worked my first vintage (1997) for Louis Latour in Burgundy – the most physically exhausting and fascinating experience of my life. I was officially hooked!
After two years of lugging cases around and delivering wine (with only one minor bump in the delivery van!), I was lucky enough to be given my first buying job for the Co-op in Manchester. Three years later, I was working on the other side of the Pennines buying wine for the world’s largest retailer – Asda Walmart – travelling the world, blending and selecting wines for Asda’s customers.
The corporate machine gradually took me further and further away from the product that I loved, until I eventually decided to retrain as a winemaker and I then spent the next 10 years working on numerous projects and vintages in England, France, Chile, California and Washington State.
Life took an interesting turn in 2012 when the company that both my husband and I were working for went into administration – at exactly the same time that I discovered that I was expecting twins. Three years later, after much soul searching (and nappy changing!), The Alternative Wine Company was born.
The Alternative Wine Company's mission is to help you to discover delicious new wines that you will love!
You can browse through the range of wines by wine type or by country of origin. Alternatively, if you tell me about the wines that you enjoy drinking, I will send you some personal wine recommendations.
Simply click HERE to access my 'wine discovery questionnaire'.