Harpers 50 Best Indies 2023

Congratulations to the following Sussex wine merchants which were in Harpers “top 50” for this year. The judges comments are also shown:

Butlers Wine Cellar

Everything a local merchant should be, with Henry Butler and Cassie Gould being immersed in the community, whether that be through impressive charitable works or intimate knowledge of the restaurant and bar scene, to the point where Butlers feels like part of the gastronomic fabric of Brighton and Hove. The wine selection backs this up too, with Henry readily admitting he buys on passion, with never a dull bottle to be found on the groaning shelves. A lively podcast and enticing social media presence add to the charm.

South Downs Cellars

This Sussex-based merchant is a great all-rounder, with its two shops providing the anchor for a thriving business with a healthy wholesale arm and also online sales. Within the far-reaching 1,800 product range, local is championed too, with some 80 Sussex wines and 200 local craft beers and ciders featured. Meanwhile, as much of the global range as possible is shipped direct, to help keep a keen competitive edge, with a new focus on sub-£10 wines to help customers struggling with the current cost of living. Add in innovative marketing, an engaging regular magazine, plus a healthy focus on staff advancement and wellbeing, and there’s much to praise.


A classic family business, engendering enthusiasm and loyalty with staff and customers alike, providing the base to grow well beyond its West Sussex retail stores, with a flourishing wholesale side and
a healthy online presence too. A website upgrade for trade customers, the provision of WSET courses and work with the WSTA on the proposed duty changes are just some examples of the multi-faceted nature of
Matt Hennings’ third-generation family business, which continues to quietly grow.