Our Experts: EJ Bailey (Head of Events)

EJ Bailey is Enotria&Coe’s Head Events and has been at the company for over a decade.

How did I find my way into the industry? Well, I took a (late) year out when I was in my twenties, and fulfilled a longstanding dream to spend a year in Australia. At one point on that trip I ended up staying on a vineyard which was owned by friends of my parents on the Mornington Peninsula (just around the corner from Kooyong, as it happens). It was here that I caught the bug and became much more interested in what it took to get the grapes from fruit to wine. Up until then, like many people, I had selected my wine based on what I could find on the supermarket shelf, or which had the nicest looking label. I did plenty of product research while staying on the vineyard (!), and when I got back to the UK I decided that my love affair with wine hadn’t been a holiday romance, and that I’d like to be part of the industry. So I put myself through the WSET Levels 2 & 3 (or Intermediate and Advanced, as they were in my day) and set about trying to find gainful employment. I quickly learned that out of every 1000 jobs in the industry, only around 20% are in Marketing and of that 20% only around 1 job was in Events. Undeterred by this, I took a job with an industry recruitment agency and spent time learning about the various companies and names within the industry, which eventually allowed me to move into the industry, and I’ve been here ever since!

I came to work for Enotria in 2013, and at that time the annual tasting was a smaller affair. Since then our producer family has grown, as has the scope not only of the annual tasting but of the events programme as a whole. For 2024, alongside our Head of Marketing and Head of Brand Management, I wanted to see if we could mix things up a bit for our events programme, and I’m really pleased with where we’ve got to. The purpose of the 2024 events plan is to try and think outside the box to create some varied experiences that are just a little bit beyond the norm. For our smaller events, I was increasingly finding the ‘wines in a room’ format uninspiring, and felt it didn’t really say anything about Enotria, or what we stand for. We wanted to give customers a compelling reason to want to be part of a series of events that involved wine, spirits and producers at its core, but that are also experiences in their own right. Several planning meetings later, we really feel we have an exciting, engaging and inspiring programme, not only for our customers, but also for the producers, and, frankly, for us! The first Cork & Fork event (in February) was immensely well received by customers and producers alike, and I hope that will be replicated in the regional editions later in the year, as well as the variety of other experiences we have planned.

The UK market is among the most desirable in the world, and it features a large number of importers and distributors all vying for their time in the spotlight. As a result, the industry can appear to be a little saturated with the products, tastings and experiences on offer. Customers are of vital importance to everyone, and remain at the heart of everything we do, so we continue to focus on giving them exceptional service across the board, with the events programme designed to challenge the status quo, offering experiences with commercial value that are memorable in their own right, while highlighting not only our exceptional portfolio, but also the huge raft of experience we have at our fingertips. There is a huge treasure trove of expertise both within Enotria and from our producers all over the world. Our aim is to share that knowledge with our customers, and really bring them on the journey with us.