So, throughout the 70's I travelled all over France. I wanted to 'bag' every wine region - no matter how tiny - on Hugh's maps of France.
From the French Moselle, the Côtes de Toul in the north to Apremont on the Swiss border to Bellet and Bandol in the south to the Isle de Ré and the Pays de Retz in the west, I did bag them all. Didn't do much for my sales but then I wasn't too fussed about that. As I said earlier, I had started my Company in the full expectation it would never make money. So I just did what I loved doing: exploring the backwaters of France.
It was all pre-Autoroute and many of these places were so remote they'd never seen a foreign wine merchant before. The welcome was always so warm. I miss those meals where it seemed every course had been home-grown or hunted or collected from local woods and hedgerows.
Then, in the '80's, I did them all again, systematically, and now sent customers my diary, sketches and little map of each chapter of the journey - called 'Laithwaites Great Wine Trek' ("Boldly going" … etc ) … which a customer made into a book he published - Harrap - which can still be found in second-hand bookshops - £1.99 in Ludlow last week!
Sold over 20,000 books. But not much wine.
I have yet to bring out the promised Volume Two, though I've written enough words - several times over - in my diary ever since, as I continued and extended my 'Trek' around the world.