The Story of ‘Wild Thing’ – Wines For Nature By Nature
Wild Thing organic wines are a range of Vintage Roots’ own-label wines we created in association with the Born Free Foundation way back in 2010. But how did it all begin?
Before 2010, our founders Neil Palmer and Lance Pigott had started Vintage Roots in 1986 with the express purpose of importing and distributing solely organic wines, helped along by being convinced on the clear benefits of organic production. Neil had studied zoology and agriculture at Reading University, also having done a project on English wine. These were the building blocks, and as Vintage Roots grew, Neil also got involved in more marketing ventures, and realised what he particularly enjoyed is the ‘win win’ situations in business. Vintage Roots was already helping promote organics through the inspiring producers he had met, who in turn benefited from our trading with them.
As an animal lover, Neil had a common interest in Born Free’s aims and objectives, and Vintage Roots had already given support to some of their events. By coincidence, out of personal interest, both he and our national sales manager at the time had visited Born Free’s Big Cat Sanctuary at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa. They also had some experience in producing other own-label wines under the Vintage Roots name by then, and so when an idea hatched to join with Born Free, it seemed like nothing but a ‘natural fit’. Indeed, another ‘win win’ all round for everyone, including nature and wildlife too.
And so it was, once the concept was agreed they put out a tender to several design companies to pitch for the name and wine label design, at a sharp ‘charity in mind’ rate. At the same time, tenders also went to all Vintage Roots’ organic wine suppliers who could fill bottles with quality wines at affordable prices. After a few months they had agreed on the name ‘Wild Thing’ and a great design concept for the labels from a design company who helped make it all possible. Shortly after, and following extensive tastings, they also found their preferred organic wine supplier from southern Spain whom they’d worked with by then for a number of years. The Wild Thing range started off with a red Merlot and a white Sauvignon Blanc, both wines being vegan suitable also.
After nearly a year of planning and with the final intricacies of label design, print, trademark and more, the Wild Thing wines were launched in the summer of 2010 with a message from Dame Virginia McKenna, actress and Co-Founder, Born Free, saying:
“These are two delicious organic wines, how inspired to name them ‘Wild Thing’. The name so perfectly reflects the wines’ organic origins and the company’s concern for the environment and wildlife. We are thrilled that ‘Wild Thing’ is to be sold in aid of Born Free to directly benefit conservation and animal welfare. I believe it fully deserves to be one of the most sought-after and popular new organic wines of the year.”
2010 was also Vintage Roots’ 25th year of trading and the launch of these wines was a wonderful way to celebrate. The wines were then sold at £7.25 per bottle and a fixed donation from every bottle sold was given back to Born Free, as it is to this day. Since the initial launch the range has been expanded with a Wild Thing Rosé and a Wild Thing Prosecco, along with a catching new label re-design.
These wines continue to roam across the UK, settling happily into many customers’ homes – as well as independent wine merchants, hotels, farm shops and restaurants. They’ve successfully graced tables at the Savoy, Goodwood, Royal Horticultural Halls, BAFTA and many others, along with many local events as well.
For Neil there’s been many highlights over the years, from attending all kinds of special events, from book launches to concerts, art exhibitions, fundraisers and more. Neil also has very fond memories of a trip to Kenya in 2012 with two friends, where they got up close to viewing wildlife and managed to summit Mount Kenya. In tribute to Born Free, he registered his ascent by fixing a Wild Thing label to the summit pole.
For the past few years now, and due to our successful fundraising, we have been able to be partnered with King the lion. King was rescued from an apartment on the outskirts of Paris in October 2017 by French charities Fondation 30 Million d’Amis and Refuge de l’Arche. King was being kept illegally as an exotic pet in a small, dirty cage. He had been beaten and kicked by his owner, who posted images of the abuse on social media. King was rehabilitated at the Natuurhulpcentrum Rescue Centre in Belgium before Born Free relocated him to their big cat sanctuary at the Shamwari Private Game Reserve in South Africa, where he now receives lifetime care free from harm in a natural enclosure. The donations from Vintage Roots Wild Thing collection help fund King’s lifetime care, including food, veterinary care and enclosure upkeep.
More about Born Free
The Born Free Foundation is a dynamic wildlife charity founded in 1984 by the actors Bill Travers MBE and Dame Virginia McKenna, stars of the iconic film Born Free, and their eldest son, Will Travers OBE, the charity’s Executive President. Born Free takes action worldwide to save lives, stop suffering and protect species in the wild. When possible, emergency teams rescue vulnerable animals from appalling lives of misery in tiny cages, often barren of any enrichment, and give them lifetime care in spacious sanctuaries. Find out more here: https://www.bornfree.org.uk/.
So many people have put time and effort into making Wild Thing the success it is. Thanks to everyone involved – keep celebrating, keep raising your glass!