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New Horizons Q&A: Louise Gordon, Heckfield Place

Published:  07 January, 2021

With an end game in sight with the vaccine in 2021, we speak to members of the trade about their forecasts and plans for a better year.

We continue our series with Louise Gordon, head of wine and bars, Heckfield Place

Given everything that’s going on, from Covid to Brexit, what are your three predictions for the next 12 months with regard to the trade?

Firstly, I think hotels outside of London will probably be very busy as people will want to get away without going abroad.

Secondly, it makes you think how many wine suppliers, spirits suppliers and small independent brewers and distillers will survive this year. I would imagine there will be a few surprises in that vein.

Thirdly, the large trade shows may have to be put on hold for a while or scaled down and vastly limited in attendance.

Looking ahead, what lasting impact will there be from Covid on your business?

For the next couple of years at least we will be running to try to make the money up that we’ve lost, especially in events, as I imagine most hospitality venues will. It will take probably two to three normal years to recoup losses occurred before the current lockdown. The budget is being constantly revised at the moment.

What have you done to help mitigate loss of sales?

In a time of only being able to drink with a ‘substantial meal’ we have had to be really inventive to encourage sales but stay within the parameters of the law. Things like offering a cocktail trolley around the tables at the start of your dinner or suggesting room service cocktails or champagne upon check in, plus upselling digestifs and end cocktails to tables with dessert (or at 9.50pm, whichever is first) has become a real habit now!

I am also clamping down on wastage and have revised the cocktail list to make it as low-waste as possible.

When do you think business might get close to something resembling ‘normal’?

Eighteen months to two years depending on the effectiveness and availability of vaccine.

During times of operating during the pandemic, have customer drinking habits changed and, if so, how?

When we reopened in September we had some record sales days. A lot of cocktails were sold and more fine wine than usual for that period. I think people were just happy to be allowed back to restaurants and hotels.

What are your biggest concerns about Brexit?

Price hikes in wines and spirits and possible interruptions in supply of both food and beverage.

How do you feel the trading environment is going to play out post Brexit?

There will certainly be less foreign footfall tourist wise for the foreseeable future.

If you had to pick the next big thing in wine what would it be?

I would love it to be orange wine or a drinkable alternative to cheap Sauvignon Blanc, but that’s a pipe dream…

If you could change one thing about the wine/drinks industry longer term, what would it be?

Ways to capture and reuse CO2 and other techniques to reduce the environmental impact.

Quickfire questions:

New versus Old World?

Old World

Red, white or  rosé?


Screw top or cork?


Bottle versus box?


Still versus sparkling?

Bubbles, everyday of the week