Well-loved wine store wants customers to remember experience

Portland Wine Warehouse is a popular feature for Wiganers and others outside the borough
Portland Wine Warehouse is a popular feature for Wiganers and others outside the borough

The owners of a popular wine store have said they will appeal the decision to block their “try before you buy” scheme following “overwhelming” public support.

Lindsay Porter, 38, who runs Portland Wine Warehouse on Rainford Road in Billinge with her partner Hobby Alam, 41, said that they are leaning on the public to help appeal the decision.

The family-run business received a huge blow last month when St Helens Council refused a certificate of lawfulness for the ancillary wine-tasting machines, which allow customers to sample a wine before they purchase the bottle.

Opposition originally put forward by Billinge Parish Council has now been retracted after the mother-of-three attended a meeting to explain to councillors that the establishment is not a wine bar and that the tasting function is just another means of supporting her independent business.

Lindsay, who is a teacher at Rainford High School, said: “So many people have been in touch since finding out. The amount of people who have contacted us has been overwhelming.

“I feel like I have been given a new lease of life. People love it. Customers coming from outside the area say they wish they had something like this.”

The certificate was initially objected over concerns that the shop would become a “wine bar” or a “gin bar”, but Lindsay has highlighted that this is not the case in her recent speech to Billinge Parish Council.

At a recent meeting she spoke about the scheme, saying: “I too want a clean safe happy environment to bring my children up in, this is my village too.

“There has never been an intention to change the shop into a wine bar, but I want customers to walk out of that shop and remember it, the whole concept of being surrounded by oak barrels, choosing wine, smelling it, tasting it, that is exactly what we hoped to achieve when designing the interior.

Lindsay explained how the scheme began when a customer had travelled from Bolton for a particular flavoured gin which was temporarily out of stock at Portland Wine Shop. Realising that she had another gin very similar, Lindsay offered to open the bottle for the customer to sample and smell, resulting in a happy customer and a sale for the traders.

The couple are now leaning on members of the public to help them gather evidence of samples turned into purchases and are calling on anyone willing to help their appeal to contact them at the store.