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Christopher Taverner dies, aged 86

Christopher Taverner, who had worked in the drinks industry since 1962, recently died peacefully aged 86 after battling a short illness.

Over the six decades working in the industry, he was well known in the UK national off-trade and global export markets having worked closely with many major brands and all the major retailers.

After leaving Bedford School as an accomplished rower and rugby player, he served as a cadet and officer in the merchant navy travelling the world with the British Indian Steam Navigation Company, before a short spell as an officer in the British Navy.

His career in the world of drinks started in 1962 as regional sales manager for the North East of England with Guinness & Co, before re-locating with the business to New York City where amongst other ‘celebrity’ encounters as their key East Coast USA brand representative, he even managed to enjoy a memorable night in a bar drinking Guinness with Frank Sinatra and his entourage!

Returning to the UK, he spent four years as Sales Director at Rawlings of London helping quickly build Mateus Rose to a half a million case brand. He then moved with his wife and young family to Tokyo with Inchcape as Director of their Wine & Spirits division distributing brands that included Pommery (& Greno) Champagne, Remy Martin Cognac, Gordon’s Gin, Campari and Black & White Whisky.

After a spell as MD of Goldwell UK & USA and then as the USA and South America Director for Glenlivet, in 1979 he joined Jenks Brothers in the UK as Director of Beers, Wines & Spirits, where he supplied many of the major UK retailers, working closely with Weston’s cider, Theakston’s and other own label brands. During his time there the Jenks Brothers notoriously turned down the opportunity to work with Jacobs Creek – citing there was never going to be any major interest in Australian wine!

In 1996 he set up his own consultancy business and with a great passion for an industry he truly loved, he continued to work closely with numerous global contacts in the Beer, Wines & Spirits sectors until only recently.

He is survived by his loving wife Jennifer, their two sons Ben and Charles, and four grandchildren. There will be private family funeral service later this month, and a memorial service will be held at St Peter’s Church, St Mary Bourne, Hampshire on Thursday 23 November at 2pm.

This obituary was written by Christopher’s son, Charles, for db. 

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