Our Story

Welcome to Novel Wines. We're the UK's most exciting wine retailer, specialising in the unique and wonderful. This is our story.

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Hey there! We love inspiring wine lovers up and down the UK to try something new. It's awesome you've discovered our online shop with our full list of delicious tipples.

Here's our story:

In April 2016, award-winning wine journalist Ben Franks teamed up with Hungarian wine importer Gyorgy Zsiga to make the wine market a more exciting place to shop.

Ben had been frustrated that no-one was selling the delicious range of Eastern European wines he had tasted and written about. Wines like the fruity and great value Bulgarian Sant'Ila Cabernet or - the wine that founded our business - the Hungarian late harvest dessert wine Kardos Fairytale.

Ben was showcasing the Fairytale, from Tokaj, at every wine tasting he put on. It quickly became known as "everyone's favourite dessert wine". It is sweet, but never cloying with superb freshness. Gyorgy was the man who was importing this delicious nectar. So in April, Ben asked Gyorgy if he wanted to go for a pint...

That evening, Ben and Gyorgy decided to start Novel Wines. Our aim is to showcase all the wines you haven't heard about yet. Wines from passionate small producers and community co-operatives, often from regions that aren't known for their wines, all of which taste fantastic. 

Ben and Gyorgy filming their crowd-funding video for Novel Wines

We started putting together a list of unique and wonderful wines from places such as Lebanon, Thailand, Japan, Croatia and beyond, along with our own specialisms of Hungarian and English wines, to create a truly "Novel" wine list.

To see if the idea had legs, Ben and Gyorgy started a crowdfunder in May and the project quickly raised over £5,000 in just 28 days. That was the proof we needed, so the tasting began and we refined our list to 100 genuinely brilliant wines.

After months of tasting over 1,000 wines and putting together our final list, Novel Wines was born on 24 September 2016. We celebrated the launch alongside over 200 new customers at the Hilton City Hotel in Bath.

Since we launched it has been our mission to share the highest quality wines from these undiscovered producers and make each bottle accessible to wine lovers of all levels. You needn't be a wine specialist to taste something fantastic and unusual. It's about putting the fun back into wine by playing on our curiosity and search for new tastes by making every wine you buy a talking point.

Ben talks to Jonathan Ray on the weekend BBC Bristol show

Video of Ben's second appearance on The Crunch in 2017

Ben talks about wine and food matching on BBC Radio Bristol.


Meet our team

Novel Wines Meet the Team

Above, left to right: Marina Pellegrini, Ben Franks and Gyorgy Zsiga.

Ben Franks
CEO, Wine Buyer & Co-Founder

Gyorgy Zsiga
COO, Wine Buyer & Co-Founder

Mark Roberts
CFO & Director

Marina Pellegrini
Sales & Marketing Manager

Adrian Franks
Creative Manager

Sherry Espineli
Personal Assistant to CEO