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Worker Bee: meet Kate Goodman, the wine expert and owner of Reserve Wines


Kate Goodman opened Reserve Wines in West Didsbury in 2003, selling, distributing, and consulting on a range of interesting wines you aren’t likely to find in your local Tesco. She is passionate about making great wine fun and accessible, encouraging people to experiment with different grape varieties. Matching food with wine is one of her main areas of expertise, having worked alongside some of the world’s top chefs as the drinks expert on BBC’s Food & Drink programme, presenting alongside two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr. All this from a chance encounter with a customer in her shop who worked at the BBC and had seen one of her self-promotional marketing videos on YouTube!

She has gone on to open two more shops in Market House Altrincham, and in Warrington (Bents), and is looking to expand with a shop in Manchester’s city centre in the new year.

What got you started in your field of work?

I always knew I wanted to work in wine. I lived on and off in Lyon, France, for a number of years and my passion really started there, learning about the food and wine relationship and how big a part of their culture it is. But I just didn’t know how to get into it. It wasn’t until I started working part time for Oddbins. They really know their stuff and taught me loads. That was the real catalyst and I thought yes, this is the right thing for me.

Who have been the biggest influences on your work? 

Definitely my husband. He encouraged me to make the leap from a corporate job to working for myself. He’s been amazing, supporting me through the various ups and downs of launching my own business. And Michel Roux Jr. He’s at the top of his game and a hundred percent driven by quality. Filming can be so long and tiring, he never showed anything but professionalism the whole time. He’s such a lovely man and his sense of humour meant it was a joy to work alongside him really. More recently Nick Johnson and Jenny Thompson, they are so committed and it was their vision that created Market House, where we have our unit here in Altrincham. Their ability to innovate and never stand still is so inspiring.

Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear

My first ‘proper’ job was for KPMG on a project in Switzerland tracing the accounts of Jewish people who had been killed in the Holocaust, recovering their money and giving it to their surviving families. It was a really intense, emotional experience. I didn’t really enjoy working in accounting, but it was a privilege and quite amazing to have been involved with that.

What is your proudest achievement so far?

Opening two new sites, giving birth to my second child, and turning forty, all in the same month, October 2014. That was pretty big!

What does your typical day involve?

It’s chaos in our house from 6am to 8am. After family stuff is out of the way, I just love going to work. I love my job, it’s different every day. But I try to visit each site at least twice a week, I have some really great people working in my team and I like to catch up with them. I travel a lot, meeting producers, tasting events, hosting events. My day could be anything from 9am to 6pm, or it might not finish until 10pm.

And how do you relax on your days off?

I try and spend Sundays with my family. I love eating and drinking so big gatherings with food and wine. I also do lots of exercise, running and bootcamps, I’m very competitive!

What is the best advice you have been given, or can give?

Be true to yourself and follow the path you believe in. When I went to my interview with the BBC in Bristol I called a producer friend of mine and asked her how I should come across for the presenting role. She told me to be myself. You are either what they are looking for or you are not. As my husband says, ‘just be yourself and then there’s nothing to remember.’

If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?

I know it’s hilarious, but I studied French and Politics at university so when I left I thought I’d be a diplomat in the Foreign Office! I’ve always loved to travel, and I love languages. I didn’t get very far with the application form though.

Red or Blue?

Indifferent I’m afraid. But funnily enough that’s the first question Michel Roux asked me when I got in the car for our first day of filming as he’s a massive Red!

Name your three favourite places in Manchester. 

Manchester Town Hall, it’s so beautiful and I’m so proud every time I walk in as we’ve done quite a lot of events there. I love the Marble Arch pub in Ancoats as it’s a proper, classic pub and it’s run by Jan, a very passionate and dedicated lady. And restaurant wise, Manchester is very exciting right now, I recently went to The French and the sommelier there was just brilliant. Pairing of food and wine is becoming more commonplace and I love that.

If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be? 

I know it’s so obvious, but I wish the weather was better so we could have more reliability for outdoor events. I’m part owner of Vin Van Voom so we get involved with a lot of festivals and they are heavily dependent on the weather. And also more green spaces in town.

And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?

It’s such a culturally diverse city. We compete at an international level but we still have a local connectivity and a strong sense of community. If you travel anywhere in the world people have heard of Manchester. I’m proud to be from here.

Kate will be hosting Wine Masterclass with Oz Clarke at the Bolton Food and Drink Festival on Saturday 27 August. She will also be at the Manchester Food & Drink Festival with Jane Dowler and Susy Atkins presenting Three Wine Women on Thursday 29 September.

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