Cheers and farewell to Clitheroe wine seller Andrew Byrne

One of the Ribble Valley’s most familiar faces, food and drink expert Andrew Byrne, has retired from the family business after more than decades.

Andrew, who started as an order boy delivering beer and groceries by bike to customers aged 11, went on to serve customers at D. Byrne and Co Fine Wines Limited from behind the counter at their Clitheroe shop for 53 years.

Founded in 1879 by Andrew’s great-grandfather Dennis, the business is one of the Ribble Valley’s longest-surviving.

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Now, hanging up his apron if not necessarily his wine glasses, Andrew has passed the baton to the next generation – his son Joseph, while Andrew’s brother Philip will continue to look after the finance side of the business.

Andrew Byrne who is retiring after more than 50 years in the family business

Reflecting on a satisfying five decades as a sommelier and friend to so many, Andrew said the time had come to take a step back.

"I’ve loved every minute of it,” he said. “ It’s the best job in the world. I got to drink a lot of good wine and eat a lot of good food. What’s not to like?

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"The business has changed a lot just in my lifetime. When I was a lad we used to provide groceries and beer which I would deliver around the area. It was only later we began to specialise in wine and other alcohol.

"Philip and I have a great interest in wine and that’s what influenced the business. We’re both self-taught but we’ve visited some fantastic countries in our bid to source the best wines. I think it worked because we’ve won a lot of awards over the years.”

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Andrew Byrne

Andrew revealed that Spain is his country of choice for wines with Rioja being his favourite.

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"I love Spain, the people are very friendly and I enjoy their wine. I think my best trip though was to Chile and Argentina.”

The business now stocks some 6,000 different wines.

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Son Joseph meanwhile enjoys sourcing obscure wines from unlikely countries such as China and Japan, and said that Croatia was a current favourite.

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Joseph is also a whisky aficionado with Andrew admitting his son has “a good nose for it”.

He added: “I’m 67 now so I’m going to enjoy my retirement. I’ve got a nice big garden so I plan to continue enjoying some nice drinks relaxing.”