New York merchant named Best Independent in the World in Jancis Robinson competition

New York independent wine merchant, Chambers Street Wines, has been named the Best Independent Retailer in the World in a competition run by Jancis Robinson MW.

Over the summer Robinson has been running a competition via her website,, to not only find the best independent in the world, but also to celebrate the special role independents play by with a writing competition to highlight different retailers stories around the world.

Of the 117 entries received 13 were about Chambers Street Wines in New York, depicting how the store works hard to build personal relationships between its customers and its growers.

The winning prize is two tickets to attend’s Barolo Night and the store’s owner, Jamie Wolff, will be travelling to London  later in the year to take part in a special tasting of 2010 Baroli on November 23. He will also be treated to lunch beforehand at the award winning The Quality Chop House, run by Robinson’s son Will Lander.

Runner-up in the competition was online English wine merchant, Private Cellar, based in southern England, which Robinson said proved you do not have to run a bricks and mortar store to connect with wine consumers. Ten of Private Cellars’ customers wrote to Robinson to say how much they enjoyed the range and service they receive from Private Cellar.

The team at, which includes three Masters of Wine, picked American Marcy Waterfall, as the overall winner of its writing competition, selected from 38 articles published on the site since the end of July. Waterfall won for her “amusing account” of her local wine shop, Dedalus Wine, in Burlington VT. She will receive a personally signed copy of Robinson’s acclaimed Wine Grapes. 

The competition received entries from all over the world including the UK, Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Switzerland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia.

Robinson said: “All the accounts of independent wine merchants received, from whichever spot on the globe, were truly heart-warming. Clearly wine lovers have a very special relationship with their preferred retailers, and the retailers described really seemed to go the extra mile.”

Robinson told “We owe a great deal to our columnist Alex Hunt MW of Berkmann who had the idea for the competition in the first place, and to Tamlyn Currin who marshalled all the entries and wrote charming introductions to all 38 that we published. But most of all we were hugely impressed by how literate, creative and truly appreciative of independent wine merchants the writers who entered our competition were.”

Eben Lillie of Chambers Street Wines, said of their win: “We are honoured and very proud to be the winners of the competition. I spent some time reading some of our customers’ writing and I have to say that I was literally moved (I might have even shed a tear). I helped open Chambers Street with my father (David) and Jamie Wolff in 2001, and it’s been a big part of my life since then.

“Meeting the growers, travelling, tasting wine and learning from my colleagues and our clientele… these have all been enriching experiences for me. Seeing that this store means so much more to our customers than just another retail shop is pretty special. We have become a home for wine, and our customers have become friends. It’s a special place and I’m so glad to see that the folks who shop with us feel the way they do. It means we’re doing something right!”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Sounds like a real scientific test in true MW style.

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