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Longest serving MW passes away

Published:  28 September, 2022

David Burns has passed away, after a long and varied career in the wine trade, also having been the youngest and oldest to hold the coveted MW title. 

Educated at Stowe and called up for national service in 1946, David was commissioned into 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and served in Palestine. His career in the drinks trade began in 1949 after he was de-mobbed, starting out as a trainee bottling claret in the cellars of J.L.P. Lebègue, prestigious shippers of Bordeaux and Burgundy.

David became an Master of Wine in 1956 and joined Geo. Idle Chapman, a small family business specialising in liqueurs, with the brief to develop its wine business.

The company grew rapidly, was merged and then taken over several times, becoming the core of an expanding group. There, David was charged with setting up a bonded production centre in a 200,000 sq ft warehouse on the site of the old Handley Page aircraft factory in Cricklewood.

Having successfully accomplished that task, but tiring of working for a big group, David then set out to start his own company. In December 1971, David Burns Vintners opened its doors for business, going on to purchase a small group of shops and bars in the New Forest. Further branches also followed, in Bournemouth and on the Isle of Wight.

However, in the face of growing competition from the rapidly growing supermarkets, David then decided to get out of retail and focus instead on the more profitable and growing wholesale side of the business, supplying restaurants and hotels.

Having made a success of the business over many years, becoming a leading supplier to the hospitality sector across Southern England, David then sold it to Grants of St James’s in 1993, when he retired from the trade.