Hands (and wine) across the ocean.....

Early February, out of the blue, I received an interesting email. It read,

“I was given your address as someone who might be able to help me. My father, Bryan Adlum, is celebrating his 90th birthday in a couple of months, and as part of the celebrations I would love to be able to present him with a couple of bottles of John Adlum Chardonnay from the Virginia Wineries”. Signed - Jackie Adlum

Having introduced, imported and distributed some of the finest Virginia wines throughout the UK, I was delighted to receive this email. I was in the process of transferring import and distribution to one of my customers and the Brexit Referendum vote happened. We decided to go into a holding pattern until the uncertainties, putting it mildly, of Brexit were resolved.

So problem one, John Adlum Chardonnay is not available in England. Problem two, Williamsburg Winery could not deliver to the UK.

I am a great believer in serendipity. In this case I was due to leave for the UK to study at WSET London and to visit sparkling wine producers in south east England (more on this to follow in another blog). I offered to take 3 bottles with me, Kenny Bumbaco at Williamsburg Winery kindly shipped the wines to my home in Virginia, and I packed them in my bag ready for my flight to the UK.

On February 17th I arrived in Oxford for the weekend and Jackie Adlum drove down from Warwickshire, which is north of Oxfordshire and we met at the Highwayman Hotel, to hand over the John Adlum wine. I wanted to know more about Jackie’s story and her dad, who sounds like a wonderful man, so we had a chat over a cup of coffee on a glorious sunny day…...

Jackie has worked in the UK Prison Service for over 25 years and is an accomplished athlete. She has competed in the World Police and Fire Games in Adelaide, Vancouver, New York, Belfast, and……Fairfax County, Virginia! This year the games will be held in Chengdu, China.

Bryan Adlum is an adventurer.. For his 70th he completed a hundred-mile walk for charity. For his 80th he jumped out of a plane at 14,000ft, and after a freefall of 8,000ft opened his parachute to gently glide down to earth.

His other exploits include a hot air balloon trip, helicopter rides and numerous walks and runs – all to raise money for his charity.

To arrange for this wine to be at his surprise 90th birthday party has been a real pleasure and is another reminder that education has as much to do with experiences as it does the study of theory. Jackie Adlum was able to make the connection with John Adlum wine through knowledge of wine, knowledge of Virginia, her experiences in Virginia, and potential historical connections with colonial history. She hasn’t discovered ancestral connections with John Adlum, but this experience will no doubt lead to more research, more discovery, and most important of all the celebration of an adventurer, Bryan Adlum, her dad!

Adlum across the ocean….delighted to meet Jackie Adlum at Kidlington, Oxford to hand deliver Williamsburg Winery John Adlum Chardonnay.

Adlum across the ocean….delighted to meet Jackie Adlum at Kidlington, Oxford to hand deliver Williamsburg Winery John Adlum Chardonnay.


John Adlum Chardonnay is made by Matthew Meyer and his team at Williamsburg Winery.

John Adlum Chardonnay is in recognition of John Adlum (1759-1836). Adlum was a Revolutionary War veteran, land surveyor and horticulturist, the author of the first monograph on United States viticulture (that is, not British North American and a treatise that focuses on local varieties): A Memoir on the Cultivation of the Vine in America (Washington, 1823).