Direct Wines, The Sunday Times Wine Club, Laithwaites or just Wine People. Known by various names over the last 50 years, Laithwaites is now the top wine company in the UK and a leading example of a thriving family business turned empire.

In the 1960s young geography student Tony Laithwaite took a job washing wine bottles in Bordeaux and soon fell head-over-heels in love with the wine and the people who make it. After his inspiring time in Bordeaux, he took a van stocked with his favourite French wines back to the UK to share with friends and neighbours at home as part of a small start-up business. He wrote to Harold Evans at the Times to persuade him of the superior quality of his imported wine, and they soon joined forces to set up the hugely successful Sunday Times Wine Club. It wasn't long before hundreds of small wineries around the world were queuing to take part in Tony's venture, which transformed from a tiny operation to a massive business virtually overnight. Today, nearly 50 years on from its foundation in 1969, Laithwaites' parent company Direct Wines is the world's number one home-delivery wine merchant with operations in the UK, US and Australia and New Zealand.

Direct: Tony Laithwaite My Story is not just the remarkable story of a wine company, or its wines, but a tale of the people who have created its success. Filled with rich archive imagery and newly commissioned illustrations by David Eldridge, as well as anecdotes of Tony's early years in France, this inspirational memoir is perfect to enjoy with your favourite bottle of wine.

Published4 April 2019