An independent Oxford wine merchant has been named the best in the UK.

Oxford Wine Company was chosen by a panel of industry experts by Harpers Wine & Spirit, the leading industry publication, who every year produce their list of Top 50 Indies.

The judges said: "Having celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, Ted Sandbach’s Oxford Wine Company continues to offer a benchmark to which other ambitious indies can aspire."

The company offers 2,000 wines, spirits and has “four and a half” shops, plus The Oxford Wine School, which has a calendar of events and WSET (wine, spirit and sake) courses.

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Its programme of tasting events includes winemaker masterclasses as well as more informal staff-led tastings.

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The spirits tasting programme has included tastings on Scotch, Irish and American Whisky so far this year, as well as Tequila and Mezcal and two Rum tastings.

The events are almost always sell-outs. 

It also has two Oxford wine cafés, plus offshoots Sandy’s Piano and Wine Bar on King Edward Street, as well as the new Little Sandy’s in Witney run by Ted's son George.  

Owner and chairman Ted Sandbach started the business in his garage back in 1992.

The wholesale business now spans the breadth of the country, with key accounts in Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds, London, Wales and Belize.

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"I know it sounds like a joke, but we somehow supply the duty-free shop there," said Mr Sandbach.

He is so passionate about supporting the local economy, he not only ensures that everything used by the business – office supplies, insurance, utilities and so on – is sourced through a local supplier or broker, he even has a company-wide Amazon ban.

Mr Sandbach was formerly a teacher in Oxford.

He said: "I spent several years teaching at Magdalen College School, but a combination of itchy feet and an interest in the wine business prompted me to set out on my own.

"The Oxford Wine Company had very humble beginnings in the garage of my house back in 1992, as I began selling wine to local businesses, delivering it all out of the back of my old Saab.

"Over the years there have been many ups and downs, and I find myself occasionally astonished by the scale to which it has now grown – a group of companies with a turnover in excess of £10million."

And, he said, this award is good news for the Oxford High Street.

"It shows what we have keenly felt for the past 30 years – that there is a willingness amongst the Oxford consumer base to support independent businesses.

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"We are fortunate to be located in a city in which there are plenty of discerning individuals who are happy to spend on quality products and service."

Now he said he wants "to press on" and secure the company's reputation as one of the top independent wine merchants in the country.

"The wine scene is challenging at the moment, with the cost of living crisis, changing consumption patterns and new import, export and duty requirements all to be navigated," he said.

"However, I believe that the talented, hard-working team we have are up to the task and that we will continue to thrive – particularly with our new wine bar opening on Oxford High Street which will only add to our presence in the city."


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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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