Date posted: 18/12/2019 5 min read

Tony Laithwaite awarded CBE in Queen’s birthday honours

The Laithwaite’s Wine founder was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to the wine industry. Brought to you by Laithwaite’s.

The most innovative thinker in the wine trade over the past 50 years, Laithwaite pioneered a reinvention of the UK wine industry, championing discoveries delivered ‘from the vineyard, direct to your door’ – an entirely novel concept. In doing so, he spearheaded an industry change, prompting the UK to become the world’s most progressive wine market worth more than £4.2 billion in sales. The company, which is still family owned, has become “the world’s leading home-delivery wine merchant” (Jancis Robinson MW).

Tony LaithwaitePicture: Tony Laithwaite.

As a student with a summer job washing bottles in Bordeaux, Tony Laithwaite fell in love with wine and wine people. He hired a van and started delivering a few special wines. In 1969, his tiny business began selling from a railway arch in Windsor. Slowly he built a strong team around him, one of whom, importantly, was his wife Barbara.

Laithwaite introduced his clients to wines from unfamiliar regions in France, Spain and Italy, and unknown wines from Argentina, Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Bulgaria. He built strong relationships with Australian and New Zealand winemakers and championed their wines, while employing adept New World winemakers – ‘flying winemakers’ – to revitalise regions in southern France and beyond.

Back in 1984, he was invited by the New Zealand government to see how the 10-year-old New Zealand wine industry was shaping up. In 1986, New Zealand winemaker and Laithwaite’s good friend, the late Ernie Hunter, showed his sauvignon blanc at Laithwaite’s London Vintage Wine Festival – the first time anyone in the UK had experienced the explosive force of Marlborough sauvignon.

In time, Laithwaite began selling in other countries, successfully sharing his passion for wine and storytelling in Australia, New Zealand, the US, and further. His creativity continues. Having the honour of planting a vineyard in Windsor Great Park propelled the family to the forefront of the English sparkling wine industry, while championing the growing English wine market.

Of his CBE, Laithwaite says: "When the envelope came, I thought it was a traffic summons! I'm gobsmacked, and very honoured. It isn't a dream come true because I never dreamt it would happen. And it's far from being all me. Barbara, of course, always did the hard work and all who know the company, know who's really in charge. This is actually for a whole bunch of loyal, crazy people... they made the company what it is today."

“I never envisaged the business would become so big. It just kind of happened – some of us get very lucky. I was in the right place, at the right time.”

“I never envisaged the business would become so big. It just kind of happened – some of us get very lucky. I was in the right place, at the right time.”
Tony Laithwaite, founder Laithwaite’s Wine

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To learn more about Laithwaite’s Wine People in Australia and New Zealand visit: and