German Estate Wines Vinnicombe - Nackenheim


A life without Riesling is possible, but pointless?


Family and Company History

Derek Vinnicombe (vintage 1950) was raised on the bottle, and thus followed the family tradition.
William Frederick Vinnicombe, his great-great-grandfather, established a wine merchants company in Torquay (England) back in 1857.
After completing college, studying German, Chemistry and French (what a mixture), Derek joined the Landes Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt für Weinbau und Kellerwirtschaft (what a mouthful for the State Viticultural College) in Veitshöchheim near the splendid baroque city of Würzburg in Germany.

The appreciation of fine German wines began.

Following practical experience in Germany and Switzerland, he became a wine-broker and later established his own company in 1985, concentrating on the finer wines from Germany.

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The Vinnicombes Company History in England

Vinnicombes’ was founded in 1857 by William F Vinnicombe. The shop was in Bath Road Torquay and was originally a fruit shop. When William F Vinnicombe was 21 his father gave him the shop and he started selling fruit and wine. Deliveries were made by horse and cart.

In 1912 William Robert Vinnicombe (nicknamed Tish - as he was always sneezing) became part of the company and it continued to expand.

In 1918 after the war he came out of the army and he ran the Teignmouth and Torquay shops with George Bond, his brother in law. The company then went from strength to strength and they started to use motor vehicles for deliveries in 1934.

They delivered to hotels in the exclusive areas of the Warberries and Lincombes of Torquay. Other customers included the gentry in Torquay. In January they would stock up their cellars with the finest wines, send them an invoice and get payment 1 year later. In 1934 for example 12 bottles of Barsac cost 34 shillings. The wines were imported in oak casks and bottled on the premises.

In 1939 war began and everything was rationed. In 1941 on a Friday evening at 7pm the Torquay shop was bombed and all the wine and spirit poured down the street.

After serving 4 years in the army Robert William Vinnicombe came back to the firm and started the beer bottling part of the company, he worked in Torquay and his cousin Gordon Bond worked in Teignmouth and they had Bernard Bond covering sales for both.

The Beer Bottling store was built behind Geneva House in Tor Hill Road Torquay. The store was built using the tram lines from Union and Fleet Street. They then bottled Guinness, Bass, Watneys, Worthington and Tuborg. They also started blending their own Whisky which was called Haytor Vat Whisky. It cost 12 shillings and 6 pence a bottle.

In 1965 the Company was sold to Watneys London Brewery, George Bond and William Vinnicombe then retired.

In 1970 Genvea House closed down and the business was moved to Heathfield, Newton Abbot to the Coca Cola building. Robert Vinnicombe didn’t want to move to head office at Trowbridge so he bought back the wine and sprit part of the business for £1. He then started selling wines and spirits from the Teignmouth Shop and the beer side of the business went to Watneys at Heathfield. He then began to slowly sell beers again, when his son Peter John Vinnicombe joined in 1975.

In 1985 they moved to Torquay to the Teignmouth Road site where over the next few years business grew substantially. Then in 1991 the business was sold to Carlsberg Tetley when Robert Vinnicombe retired.



Torquay retail shop in 1916

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Grandfather William Robert

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Father William George Robert (Bob) as young director

Derek & Bob enjoying a glass of Riesling, December 2010