Swirl Wine Group is the fruit of collaboration between a small, dedicated band of freelancers who we are greatly missing in lockdown. Call it an excuse to catch up – but we wanted to shine a light on the little team who’re keeping Swirl moving in these straitened circumstances.

Madeleine pictured at home in lockdown with her girls Jess (right), and Emily.

First up is our PR guru, Madeleine Waters of Coco PR, the PR partner of Swirl Wine Group. A stalwart of the wine PR scene, Madeleine is passing lockdown at home in Bath.

Sum up your lockdown in five words

Calm, chaotic, busy, feeding frenzy

Apart from the obvious, what’s been the biggest change for you work-wise during lockdown?

The biggest change for me has been switching from in person events to virtual events and the logistics challenges that presents and learning the new rules of virtual event management. Everything seems to take a lot longer!

COVID-19 has obviously had a massive impact on both the on- and off-trade drinks industries, but Swirl has worked hard to keep our brand personality and tone intact. What other drinks brands/ companies do you think have nailed it?

I think Borough Wines has done a really good job of rapidly adapting their business model and launching an online shop. They’re running a series of virtual tastings with small tasting samples sent out to participants, hosted by sommeliers who find themselves without work. I also think Berkmann were quick to act and come up a scheme that allowed them to help their on trade customers via their Help4Hospitality scheme which has already raised just over £34k in donations to help the hospitality industry.

The launch of Swirl in the Cloud has allowed us to keep our community (and our clients’) engaged when we can’t host them in real life? What are you doing to connect with your community?

I’m permanently doing one of the following: zooms, online quizzes and virtual drinks, House Party, checking in with WhatsApp groups sharing information about what’s open locally, and helping others who need shopping.

Everyone is super focussed on what they’ll do when lockdown is fully lifted. But what will you miss when ‘real life’ resumes?

I’ll miss the relative calm of my days, no time wasted travelling, much calmer pace of life. I’m sleeping so much better (and longer). And having all my family home together.

But of course, we also what to know the first thing you’ll do when lockdown ends!

Hug everyone! We’ll have a big get together with all our friends for starters, and travel to visit family and friends we are unable to see right now. Did I mention hugs?!

Where do you check in for your essential content? 

I’m keeping on top of trade news via The Buyer, Harpers and Drinks Business. But I’m not sure what else I read! I do love @katehawkings #seclusionsnifters on Twitter.

What does your daily drinks routine look like? 

The first couple of weeks, we had ‘a drink with Boris’ every day at the press conference because it was all so stressful. But now I try and make it dry until at least Thursday (work samples and tastings obviously don’t count!). We’ve been drinking a lot of different wines – we’ve been buying by the case, which we normally wouldn’t do. Aperol is also perfect for the lovely weather – and we’re having lots of sparkling wines as I’m currently studying that unit for my Diploma.