John Brownsdon MW
Became an MW 1962, died 22 April 2023
John Brownsdon MW passed away suddenly on Saturday 22 April in Portugal aged 87. John became a Master of Wine in 1962 and continued to be heavily involved in the IMW study programme in the 60’s, later serving as Chair in 1974. He celebrated his 60th anniversary as an MW in 2022 at the IMW Awards Ceremony at Vintners Hall, London where he was joined by his family.
John started his career in the wine trade in France with Les Fils de M. Quancard in 1957 until 1958. As old fashioned “négociants”, he worked closely with Jean Quancard who took him around the Medoc and Chateaux in the other districts of Bordeaux. Here he learned the subject of the ins and out of being a Bordeaux “négociant”. John spent most of his time in the red wine cellars and blending Quancard’s reds was part of his job.
On return from Bordeaux at the end of 1958, he joined the Berkeley Hotel in Mayfair as he was previously a trained hotelier. At the Berkeley he was a receptionist, like the trainee members of the then Savoy Group who started off their careers that way. In late 1959, he was recruited by Hunt Edmunds Brewery in Banbury as an assistant to the Manager of their Wine Department, who he succeeded on retirement after 12 months. Hunt Edmunds supplied hotels and had some retail outlets. They were taken over by M&B in Birmingham and later by Bass & Co, and as his future was uncertain, he changed jobs.
John was with WaIsh Pattison & Kaye, a wholesaler in Liverpool from 1967-1969. Walsh Pattison & Kaye were wholesalers who had a chain of shops in Liverpool and the Northwest. Returning to the home of the UK wine trade John joined J. Lyons & Co in London, who supplied their chain to London Steak Houses and corner shops, between 1970 and 1972. After this, he was Sales Director of French Wine Farmers from 1972 to 1985, who sold only French Wines to the wine importing trade.
With all his expertise in wine imports and trading, John then established his own business in 1985, Barton Brownsdon and Sadler with Barry Sadler who had emigrated to Portugal in 1970. They only sold to importers who used Forwarding Agents to go to France to collect their wine. On reaching retirement in 2005, John and Barry sold their business to the Budibent family, who maintain the relationships established by John and many more.
John will be deeply missed by his wife Carol, children Lucy, Susannah and Nathanial along with his adoring grand and great grandchildren. A Memorial Service will be held on 1 June at St John the Baptist Church, Sedlescombe TN33 0QP at 14:00.
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