7 Best independent wine merchants in Somerset

If you thought Somerset was only about the cider…think again. Some of the county’s prettiest market towns and villages are home to fabulous independent wine merchants, run by passionate wine aficionados who have poured their heart and soul into peddling the humble grape. Often, these shops are a hybrid of bar, deli and thriving drinking venue where you can educate your mind, expand your palate, or just enjoy a glass of delicious vino with friends.

If you’re keen to swap unadventurous supermarket plonk for interesting winemakers who care about the land, feel less daunted when faced with a wall of wine, or simply find a fun and interesting place to drink, check out these independent Somerset wine shops for experiences that will linger long after the last sip.

Bottom’s up!

The Somerset Wine Co., Castle Cary

Headed up by wine guru Camilla Wood and her knowledgeable team, Somerset Wine Co. is a cheerful emporium that houses 500 carefully-curated wines from small producers across the world. ‘Terroir’ is the buzzword here, and there’s a strong focus on minimal intervention wines with close connection to the land. 

As well as a beautiful bar brimming with wine choice, a good-to-know-about garden and cosy interiors, you’ll discover West Country craft beers, cider and spirits proudly showcased, including their own Somerset Dry Gin, Sweet Track. 

Want to become a wine connoisseur? Camilla runs certified WSET wine courses Level 1-3, and there are tasting events with award-winning food writer, Lucas Hollweg. For less formal wine nerdery, pop by on Thursdays and Fridays to sample dishes from local food suppliers, paired perfectly with your booze.

The Cellarhand, Bruton

Husband and wife team, George and Javiera, met while working in a winery in Casablanca, Chile in 2011. Both have qualifications in viticulture and enology, and after many years working for other wine businesses around the world, Bruton born-and-bred George thought the picturesque Somerset town would make the perfect location for a specialist wine merchant, and The Cellarhand was born.

The couple set up the shop, online and wholesale business in 2020, with a focus on great-tasting, high-quality wines and spirits from small artisan producers around the globe at a fair price point.

You’ll find everything from conventional and organic to biodynamic, natural and vegan wines, plus enthusiastic hosts ready to point you towards your next favourite drink.

Cellarhand Bruton Somerset
Photo by George Read

Vintage & Vine, Clevedon

If you want to compare productivity levels during the Coronavirus lockdown, Alex and Dom Lamy really excelled themselves. The couple (who also run Escala tapas restaurant on the seafront) spent this time converting what had previously been office space, into a stylish, spacious bottle shop and drinking venue, Vintage & Vine, opening in November 2020.

If you’re looking to restock your booze cupboard, or discover some obscure, stellar bottle of wine, there are around a thousand varieties of plonk to drool over, including those from local vineyards and South West producers. You’ll also find 40 different gins and an array of spirits and draft beer. If that sounds like too many to fathom, pull up a pew and take your time pouring over the possibilities, cup of coffee or glass of vino in hand.

The Little Wine Shop & Social, Taunton

Max and Philippe met when working for Marco Pierre White in the early ’90s. They briefly went their separate ways (Max to open as front of house for Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, while Philippe worked for BBC’s Great British Menu judge, Oliver Peyton), before their paths converged in 2018, sparking the idea for an intimate establishment encompassing a restaurant, wine bar and bottle shop – The Little Wine Shop & Social – in Taunton’s Independent Quarter.

Wine-wise, if you fancy going off-piste, you’ll find quirky bottles sourced from lesser-celebrated regions. Tipple from Turkey anyone? There are also European classics, organic bottles and a choice of spirits. Check out their bespoke tastings for parties of six or more. An à la carte menu and tapas awaits next door, or stop by the deli for exceptional cheese and charcuterie to take home.

The Grape & The Good, Wells

Andrew Kinnersley got into the business of wine almost by accident. After finding temporary work for a wine company in France, he ended up staying for 10 years, picking up wine knowledge and qualifications along the way.

Returning to the city where he grew up, he opened his own wine shop, The Grape & The Good, where he prides himself on personalised customer service and dispelling any notions of wine snobbery of stuffiness. You’ll never feel foolish for not knowing the difference between a Carmenere and a Cinsault here. 

Local wines feature from Somerset’s vineyards, Fenny Castle, Aldwick Estate and Dunleavy and there is locally-produced cider and beer on offer too. Don’t miss his ‘informal walkabout’ tastings of over 50 wines, held in June and November. 

Teals, South Cadbury

Somerset’s answer to Gloucester Services (without the filling station), Teals houses a dazzling array of produce, which focuses heavily on sustainable West Country fare from local producers.

As well as an extensive food market, butcher, deli, onsite wellness classes, restaurant and gift shop, you’ll find a bottle store curated by wine genius Camilla from Somerset Wine Co. (see above).

With the motto ‘all killers, no fillers’, Teals brings some of the best, mostly organic, low intervention and natural wines from smaller vineyards to this upmarket A303 stop-off. The wines sit alongside local gins, vodkas, rums, the odd English whisky, as well as low and alcohol-free options.

Teals Farm shop
Teals

Bloom Wine Company, South Petherton

Snuggled at the bottom of the church steps, Bloom is a cosy independent wine shop-slash-bar where you can perch for a coffee, stock up on posh deli bits, or sit quaffing vino with friends around a beautiful slab of polished tree. Shelves of wine are tagged with brown labels, artisan breads and pastries bedeck counters on Saturdays. 

Bloom Wine Company
Bloom Wine Company

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