This month our spotlight falls on Gail Black who works as Marketing & Events / Sales Support, covering Scotland & the North of England.
Q: Tell us a bit about you and your role at Corney & Barrow?
I have worked with Corney & Barrow in the Scottish office since 2004. In that time I have worked as Sales Support, Office Manager and organising Marketing and Events. My role is very varied, no two days are the same – I work supporting the sales team, creating wine lists and offers, liaising with customers and organising dinners and tastings all over Scotland and the north of England. I also look after our producers when they visit north, organising their itineraries and the events they are involved in. I have loved creating unique events over the years, and there have been many highlights including; our Ayr 250th Anniversary, a very special Olivier Leflaive dinner on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, and taking part in the Scottish Ballet’s 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2019. Hopefully I can begin to start planning tastings and events such as these again very soon.
Q: How did you end up working in wine?
I have always enjoyed wine but did not set out to work in the wine industry. I came from an events background, being a Wedding Coordinator at Dundas Castle in South Queensferry followed by the Events Manager at Melville Castle near Dalkeith. I stumbled upon the C&B Scotland’s Office Manager’s position advert and it was the address, Oxenfoord Castle, that caught my eye, clearly I have a thing about castles! I had basic wine knowledge, so I consider myself very lucky to have learnt a lot from the C&B team in the past 17 years.
Q: How does the C&B business operate in Scotland and what are the different types of customers we sell to?
C&B Scotland and North of England is headed up by our Managing Director Bryce Fraser and our Director of Sales Chris Hodgson. We are a team of 34, which includes the sales team, office staff, shop staff, drivers and warehouse staff. Our main warehouse is situated in East Kilbride, where our own vans delivery daily throughout Scotland and the North of England. Our 3 offices are situated in Oxenfoord Castle just south of Edinburgh, Sedbury in North Yorkshire and Ayr, where we also have our shop and cellars. Our wide customer base includes private customers, the on-trade (restaurants and hotels), retail, private members clubs and corporate clients. Our sales team cover a huge geographical area, from Leicester/Birmingham in the south up to the far north of Scotland and its islands.
Q: When you are back in the office what is it like working at Oxenfoord Castle? Are there any stories you can share with us about the history of the building?
Our offices are situated in the basement of the very majestic Oxenfoord Castle. The castle is the family home of the Dalrymple family and is a flourishing exclusive events venue business. It has its origins in a 16th century tower house and the current A-listed building is a wonderful blend of the architectural genius of both Robert Adam in the 1780s and William Burn in the 19th century. An all-girls’ boarding school ran for over 60 years in the castle until 1993 when the school closed, and it underwent a major renovation programme carried out by the Hon. Michael and Harriet Dalrymple.
There are 13 C&B staff working at the castle, across 5 offices and our state-of-the-art tasting room. It is a beautiful place to work, particularly at this time of year, as the grounds are part of the Rhododendron National Collection. The sweeping drive and tree-lined avenue are particularly impressive, not to mention the castle itself – a very special place to come to every day.
Q: For those customers who have never visited our Ayr shop and cellars, why should they come?
Our Ayr shop is a bit of a gem and is certainly somewhere everyone should try to visit if they are in the area – it’s not your typical wine shop! The vaulted cellars are very special and date back to 1766, you can feel the history as soon as you open the door. The Ayr team are all extremely knowledgeable about wine and the history of the cellars, they are always delighted to give customers a guided tour and advise on our vast range of wines available within the shop.
When you are not working for C&B what might we find you doing?
I work at Oxenfoord from Monday to Thursday and Friday has now become my volunteering day. I volunteer with the befriending ‘Meal Makers’ charity and visit an elderly lady in my home-town of Lauder weekly, take her a home cooked meal and stay for a chat. I also volunteer with a local Community Interest Company “Weigh Greener” which is a new zero-waste shop in Lauder, helping to persuade the community to shop greener, reduce, re-use and recycle.
Going to live-music gigs and singing is a great love of mine and in normal times I am a member of the Edinburgh’s Got Soul Choir. Yoga and walking keep me fit, I try to get out into the hills as much as possible with my husband and 13 year-old son. We are lucky to live in the beautiful countryside of the Scottish Borders, where the choice of walks is endless.