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Meredith Gray Smith
John made his first wines from elderflowers and oak leaves in large glass demijohns in the attic of his parents home in Berkshire in 1978. The results were under-whelming but a lifelong passion was born.
His first exposure to serious winemaking came in 1984 when he spent the summer chasing balloons around Burgundy and the Loire Valley before going off to London University to study economics.
After graduation, he started his career in brand management at Procter & Gamble and moved on to become a head of marketing at Kraft Jacobs Suchard before leaving to establish three successful new ventures.
The first, Seattle Coffee Company, was a chain of espresso bars which his co-founders built up to 85 stores and sold to Starbucks in 1998; the second, Syzygy, is an e-business consultancy which floated on the German stock exchange in Summer 2000; and the third, Obongo, was a software company acquired by AOL Time Warner in Summer 2001.
In addition to Oriel, John runs a winery in Priorat, Spain (www.granclos.com), is a partner in a winery in McLaren Vale, Australia (www.songlinesestates.com) and is an active investor in real estate and technology. He holds an honors degree in Economics from London University and is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Besides wine, his passions include art, architecture, backgammon and food.
John's favorite Oriel wine: Ondine
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