Our History

Howard Ripley began importing wines as a hobby in 1983 while practising as a dentist in London. Initially he sold only to a few friends, but soon found that friends of friends contacted him asking to buy. A few years later he approached a top Michelin-starred restaurant with his, by now, large list of classic burgundies from many of the best domaines. To his delight and somewhat to his amazement, both he and his wines were enthusiastically received.

Over the years the business slowly grew, to the extent that the company now imports one of the largest selections of top domaines available in the UK and carries an unbeatable backlist of vintages from the region’s leading growers. In 2000, as Howard gradually moved into retirement, Sebastian Thomas joined the business. He brought a love of German wines and the company has now assembled what is widely recognised as the largest and best list of fine German wines in the UK. In 2018, we launched our Italian portfolio made up of a select number of fine estates from Northern Italy.

Sebastian is joined in the office by Oli Burton, Nancy Green and Emily Jackson and our trade team Adrian Burns and Ziggy Grinbergs.


What we do

We import fine wines from Burgundy, Germany, and Northern Italy, mainly from small, family-run estates. These estates run the gamut from the most recognised names in the wine business to unknown estates that we think deserve recognition. We taste every wine that we offer, and we aim to cultivate long relationships with every grower in our portfolio.

We sell retail directly, through our website and phone orders, and also sell to restaurants, wine bars, and wine shops on our trade side.


Our Team

Our Team

We are a small team of dedicated wine enthusiasts. Every member of our team has undertaken wine training, and we would be delighted to speak with you about your wine selection.


Director & Buyer

Photograph of Sebastian

Sebastian came late to wine. He began his career in book publishing, but after some years found himself more preoccupied with bottles than books. His first job was selling wine to New York restaurants; on his return to the UK he worked for Laytons, where he fell head over heels for Burgundy. Lured by Howard Ripley’s fabulous collection of Burgundian domaines, he joined in 2000, and introduced a portfolio of his other love, German wines. Like all decent upstanding people, he is married, has two children and lives very close to Surrey.


Marketing & Operations Director

Photograph of Emily

Emily stumbled (and fell) into the wine business as a student in Walla Walla, Washington, where she started out doing shifts in tasting-rooms during the busy wine-release weekends, then graduated to full time work in tasting-room sales and marketing. After several years, she was lured out of small-town life by the prospect of moving to Bordeaux and completing her Wine Marketing MBA, where, much to her classmates’ chagrin, she found herself graduating more to Burgundy than Bordeaux. She moved to London several years ago and joined Howard Ripley a few years after that. Basically, she runs the place.


Trade Sales Director

Photograph of Adrian

Adrian graduated with a Masters in Landscape Architecture, but looking for a new challenge, he promptly moved to London and went to work in a pub. This sparked an interest in wine, and like so many before him, he found himself at Oddbins soon after. Twenty years later, with substantial stints at some of the UK’s more interesting importers, including Fields Morris & Verdin, Flint Wines and Bordeaux Index, he made the grand leap to Trade Sales Director at Howard Ripley. When out of the office Adrian may be found chasing his two young children around Bushy Park, following the cricket, rugby, tennis, underwater hockey and so forth, and attempting to play golf more than once a year.


Private Client Sales Director

Photograph of Peter

Peter has worked in wine for over 20 years, starting in the west country then Suffolk and eventually moving to London. His claim to fame is being the only person to have worked for the three biggest fine wine merchants in the UK – Farr Vintners, Bordeaux Index and Berry Bros. & Rudd. Looking for a more personable/less corporate environment, he joined Howard Ripley as Private Sales Director in 2021. Now living in deepest Dorset he’s gradually succumbing to country life, trying but so far failing, to gain appreciation for the numerous local ciders. An enthusiastic runner when he notices his belly getting too big, and a fondness for artisan chocolate that helps grow said belly.


Events & Private Reserves Manager

Photograph of Nancy

Nancy’s interest in wine began early, at university. Unlike those students chiefly interested in its effects, she became fascinated by wine’s complexity and began studying at the WSET, interning at vineyards in Gavi and the Loire Valley as well as doing stints in hospitality. Unfazed by the hard work, she decided to make wine a career, and joined Howard Ripley immediately after graduation. Starting in a purely administrative role, she now manages our private reserves department as well as looking after our events calendar. She is a keen long distance runner and enjoys cooking to the accompaniment of a glass of Chablis or dry Riesling.


Trade Sales Account Manager

Photograph of Ziggy

Zigmars, or Ziggy as we call him, hails from the Latvian capital Riga, and has been working in hospitality pretty much all his adult life. Fifteen years ago, seeking new opportunities without moving too far out of his climatic comfort zone, he moved to Scotland, where his interest in wine took off. Since then he has drifted further and further south via various renowned establishments, going softer by the minute, and finally ended up in London, where he helped open Cabotte restaurant, famous for its Burgundy list. A move to Howard Ripley in 2017 was a logical step, aided by a love of Riesling. He has been living his dream ever since, and pursuing his Master Sommelier studies with dedication.


Operations Manager

Record collector, music producer, occasional running enthusiast and Riesling lover – but not necessarily in that order – Oli studied music production and worked in a well-known London wine bar whilst doing so, before assuming a managerial role there. Seduced by the complexity of wine, and not least its taste, he joined the wine trade in 2013, and Howard Ripley in 2014. He was made Operations Manager in 2018.


Administrative Assistant

Photograph of Ali

Who said nepotism is dead? After a spell in teaching and a glorious career in Ultimate Frisbee, Ali joined Howard Ripley to earn a bit of spare cash while deciding what to do with their life. To perhaps only Sebastian’s surprise, they quickly became an invaluable member of the team and now expertly and efficiently handles our private client sales admin and social media.


Welfare Officer

Photograph of Roxy

Roxy is a dog. She is not interested in wine. Mystery that she’s on the payroll really.