Welcome to BEARS SHARES: in this monthly blogpost we love to share some insight into the superhuman(s) behind local businesses in our hood. Finding out about their work, passions, lightbulb moments, likes and tips for a happy life. Now, more than ever, we love it when we can inspire you to shop local and support local. Dive in and enjoy the read. Email us here if you have a suggestion on which local business you like to see featured here next month.

Bears is a big fan of Vindinista, run by Paola and Mike on Churchfield Road in Acton, not only because they stock Mrs Bear's favourite wine, the Blanc de Blancs, but mainly because they are super awesome people. We are lucky to have collaborated on several Sorbet Cocktail events with Vindinista back in 2019 and are looking forward to some more fun for coming Summer. 

So, stay tuned for Sorbet Cocktail Event dates and keep your eyes peeled for the launch of Bears Sorbet Cocktail (sorbets to pair with your fav tipple) menu early June 2021. But first, immerse yourself in this blogpost and read all about (the peeps behind) this little gem that we are lucky to have in our local community.

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started your own wine business. 

We're Paola Tich and Mike Taylor, owners of Vindinista in Acton's Churchfield Road (though we live just over the border, off Askew Road). We met almost 25 years ago, when we were both TV news journalists. It was in the early hours, over some bad grammar.

Vindinista is a small wine shop with a big attitude focussing on artisan producers, championing off-the-beaten track grapes and regions, but also stocking great examples of the classics. In the summer, you can enjoy a glass of wine on our small summer terrace and our hugely popular truffle cheese toasties. We used to offer drinking inside, but for the moment, that is on hold...

All our wines are online, and we deliver locally (Hammersmith to Hanwell).

How did you become a creative entrepreneur?

We'd met as journalists and then both migrated to corporate jobs in movies (Mike) and corporate comms (Paola). But there came a point when we wanted to step away from the treadmill. Paola had (and still has, obviously) a burning interest in wine, so studied it, took exams, started a wine blog which led to Vindinista. We've just passed our eighth anniversary on Churchfield Road.

What does an average working day look like for you?

There is no average working day. That's what we love about it. But a lot of it is admin driven and routine, like many other jobs. Standing in a shop talking about wine is only part of it. To run a small retail business smoothly still takes a lot of organisation. Before the pandemic, Paola would go to a lot of trade tastings and a few wine trips a year. While we both really miss going to Europe, particularly, the wine trade has been very inventive in setting up online tastings with winemakers. We've done a few ourselves with our customers.

How’s your work life balance?

We used to be a wine shop (Park+Bridge) and a separate wine bar (Vindinista), and we also did markets and pop-ups. Our work-life balance was pretty rubbish as a result. In 2019, we merged the shop and bar together partly because of this - and we didn't know how Brexit was going to play out for a business mainly reliant on imported goods. We're so glad we did this, it's given us a bit more downtime. The pandemic obviously added to this with various restrictions on how many people could be in the shop, working in bubbles, no drinking outside etc. Plus it gave us the opportunity on focus on what is important when it comes to our business and our lives.

What is the best advice you have been given?

Focus on the people who love what you do rather than trying to please everyone.

What advice would you give others?

Do you research before opening a shop. When we first opened, we had a fair few people saying how brave we were, and thinking we'd just done it on a whim. Also, be really clear about your proposition and when you've got it nailed, don't mess with it. You really cannot please everyone, so be clear about who you would like as customers.

What’s the biggest misconception in your industry?

That we swan around vineyards all the time. That wine is just fermented grapes (just like ice cream is just frozen milk and sugar, right?).

That wine is a low-taxed, high-margin product (we wish). That the French make the best wine. That corks are better than screwcaps. That you need to know a lot about wine to enjoy it... and don't even get us started on 'clean' or 'skinny' wine.

What’s your most loved London restaurant?

La Trompette in Chiswick - Mike calls it his happy place.

What’s your favorite weekend activity?

We're often working weekends. But when we're not, long walks and cooking are high on the agenda. Mike will be off with his camera. And getting together with friends, which (thankfully) is now possible again. Simple, life-affirming pleasures.

Your film recommendation?

Recently, we both loved Nomadland which we found surprisingly uplifting. Paola has promised Mike she'll watch the Third Man again for his birthday.

Your book recommendation?

Paola is a fan of William Boyd, though currently she's reading Helena Carr's book about John of Gaunt ( The Red Prince). Mike is a fan of William Gibson, but is currently re-reading T S Eliot's poetry for light relief!

What superpower would you like to have?

To convince the world that dark rosé doesn't have to mean it is sweet!

What’s your favorite Bears ice cream and why?

The salted pumpkin seed nougat. Dangerously addictive. Ice cream with a bit of crunch is the best.

Who would you like to invite at your dining table and share a Bears ice cream tub with for dessert?

If the Obamas aren't available, then all the friends we haven't seen for months

Tell us a little secret about yourself ..

We have sneaking love for the Viennetta - BUT DON'T TELL PHIL!

May 20, 2022 — Vera Thordardottir