Wed 30 Jul 2014

Familial Coincidence!


A few years after starting work at The Wine Society, I was presented with a bottle of brandy by my dad (not a common occurrence, I hasten to add).

1914 Wine Society brandyThe ‘Vintage 1914’ on the label was intriguing but the real surprise came when I noticed a familiar logo and year: IECWS (which stands for International Exhibition Co-Operative Wine Society) 1874.

Knowing that no one in my family were members of The Society before me, I asked the obvious question: Where on earth did you get this, dad? ‘It came from my father,’ was the answer. ‘I think he once had a job in some wine cellars.’

My grandfather, a Swiss immigrant, set up home in central London. He took various jobs locally and my dad and I developed a theory that one of these was as a cellar man at the nearby premises of The Wine Society in Hills Place (under the London Palladium), just off Oxford Circus.

The Society moved out of London in 1965 and by the time I took a job here in Hertfordshire, my grandfather was long dead, so there was, unfortunately, no opportunity to check our theory. My dad was unable to pinpoint exactly when his father had worked at that wine company.

Roll forward to 2014 and, hunting through The Society’s archives in search of some interesting snippets from committee meeting minute books, I came across an old Wages Ledger. I couldn’t resist flicking through it and within ten minutes, lo and behold, I found an entry from January 1957 for a Cerroti, E (for Emanuele), earning a weekly wage of £7.

wages ledger

What I would give for an evening with my grandfather to uncork his brandy and compare our experiences of working for The Wine Society!

Liz Cerroti
Head of Member Services


  1. David Gow says:

    What a wonderful story, thank you for sharing it with us. Reading it has cheered me up immensely.

  2. Gene Reynolds says:

    What a delightful story, Liz. Thank you for sharing. And do please let us know when you plan to pop open the brandy 😉

  3. Peter Warby says:

    Liz, What a delightful coincidence. Small world!

  4. Jane Carr says:

    Nice story, thank you – but have you tried the brandy, or will it be passed on to yet another generation?!

  5. Helen Murtagh says:

    I love this story, and I’m so pleased that you shared it!

  6. George B Pope says:

    A very intriguing story, I wander if any others have long lost relatives who can tell similar tales.

  7. Blair Breton says:

    Dare I say a warming story. Thanks Liz just the thing to read after a hot journey on a train from London.

  8. Linda Knight says:

    What a lovely story Liz, amazing you found his details in the archives!

  9. Peter Blockley says:

    Liz, that’s a very nice story, thanks for sharing it with us.

    The vintage is rather pertinent too, as I doubt many (or any?) Society wines will have seen the century out. But chances are that it was purchased a few years later as I don’t recognise this cognac in the 1914 list published elsewhere on this Society’s Grapevine.

    Furthermore, £7 was pretty good weekly wage in 1957, so your grandfather must have been a respected cellar man back then.

  10. Andrew Bryant says:

    A great story Liz. Having emigrated to NZ in 2004 from England I often think about my grandfather who visited NZ around 1915/16 (shore leave from HMAS Sydney during the first world war). What I would give to share a glass of the wine society’s wine with him and discuss how life was back then.

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