Meeting Harry Hunt in Sussex this summer has got to be one of the most eye-opening experiences I have had since I started 365. Harry is a very humble man who has built a small vinous empire in the southern region of Spain, Andalucía. With one of his wines, ANDA, now available in Waitrose stores across the UK, his passion for his business and his products is unrivalled and inspiring. He strives to do “good” by Andalucía.
Scroll down for the full interview..
Where was Bodegas Tierra Hermosa born?
“Bodegas Tierra Hermosa was founded after I graduated with a degree in Wine Production from Plumpton College in East Sussex. We are the first négociant-style producer of its kind in Andalucía, and we released our first wines at the beginning of 2013. As a négociant, we don’t have our own vineyards or our own winery. We call ourselves a ‘collaborative wine producer’, which means we work in close partnership with grape growers and small independent wineries across Andalucía, to create a new range of modern wines, all under our Tierra Hermosa brand, which are suited to international pallets.”
Would you say that your PR/ Marketing career helped you with your wine brand?
“Ultimately, it is not difficult to make a bottle of wine. Of course, to make good wine, you need to have the knowledge, the skills, natural intuition, but fundamentally making wine is not difficult. Selling wine is incredibly difficult! Undoubtedly, having 17 years’ experience in understanding how you deal with the press, with promotions, with marketing and all of those skills is extremely transferrable to what I do now.”
What are your proudest achievements?
“Seeing my wine for the first time on a wine list was incredible. You work so hard to make a product and sell it, and this was an incredibly rewarding moment for me.
In the UK specifically, getting into Waitrose was a massive milestone for our business. Waitrose were not just buying the wine, they were buying into us and Andalucía. That was a fantastic moment for us as winemakers and for the region of Andalucía alike.”
What are your current business goals?
“To continue to increase our international presence. At the moment, we deal with the UK, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – but we would like to broaden our network of distribution. In the UK, we will be trying to ride out the wave of economic and consumer uncertainty, as the retail market in the UK is experiencing an extremnely challenging period. Until Brexit comes to its conclusion, whatever and whenever that may be, it is likely to be a bumpy road.
Maybe it will get better in the long term, but in the short term it is only likely to become more challenging. Especially for a wine producer exporting to the UK.”
Give the 365 readers 1 piece of advice for becoming an entrepreneur and or/ following your ambitions.
“You have to be fearless. Willing to take the plunge. Everything in your brain will tell you not to do it. But if you really want to be your own boss you have to be fearless.”
“Make sure you do something that you genuinely love, that you know you will enjoy doing.’
“Not everything you do is going to work. 9 times out of 10 your business efforts may come to nothing, but you must keep ploughing on regardless, because you will only get a breakthrough hard work and perseverance.
“Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey. I still regularly ring people I know and respect for advice. It is very important to tap into others knowledge and ask for their opinions”
Do you think your education had any bearing on where you are now in life?
“Certainly, the degree I gained from Plumpton was utterly invaluable. When you are creating a specific product, like a bottle of wine, you need to know what you’re doing! If it weren’t for the opportunities that came my way because of taking the course at Plumpton, and the people I met whilst there, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing now”
Is social media important to your business, if so what platforms?
“Massively. Social media was in its infancy as a marketing tool when I was coming to the end of my PR career, and I must admit I hated it. I didn’t really understand it and I didn’t see the need for it. I was an old-school PR man, who used to go to Fleet Street and sell a story to a journalist over a bottle of wine! All of a sudden, there was this weird ‘Twitter’ thing! When I first came into the wine trade, I naively thought I could go back to nature, produce my wines and people would simply love it and buy it.
It soon became obvious to me that there was no choice but to go with the times, and to embrace social media as a vital marketing tool. Whilst I still don’t love it, I do accept it for what it is and it has become a massive part of our business. We do it all now, Tweeting, Snapchatting, Facebook and Instagram. I realised that I was actually getting direct business from Twitter, for example. Importers were coming to me directly through something I posted on social media. That was the turning point for me.”
What drives you ?
“I think that every entrepreneur needs to give themselves a push every now and again. You must be self-motivated. Things can sometimes feel stagnant and you must recognise this. I think an entrepreneur needs to create excitement, rather than waiting for it to come to them, because when you are excited about something – be it a new product, project or campaign – you are most motivated.
After five years, I would say we are still an embryonic business when it comes to the wine world. We still have a long way to go, and this is what drives me, as I have an idea of where I want the businesses to be, and I know we will get there one day. But I also know that when we do get there, the journey won’t end there!”
Where do you see yourself/ the business in ten years?
“I started Tierra Hermosa because I believe passionately in the potential for great wines to be produced in Andalucía and I wanted to promote Andalucía as a wine region internationally. It’s still relatively early days, but Andalucían wines are now starting to get noticed (and get on supermarket shelves), so I would hope that in 10 years’ time our wines are being sold in all the major wine markets. I would also like to set up a vinitourism side to the business in Andalucía – to take advantage of the region’s popularity as a tourist hot-spot and spread the word about its sensational wines. On a more personal level, I am currently planting the seeds for potential wine projects in other emerging international regions – so watch this space!”