Q&A with Avril Kirrane McMurrough of Boutique Wines

Name: Avril Kirrane McMorrough
Occupation & Company: Business development and wine consultant at Boutique Wines.

Tell me about your current role.
My title is Business development and wine consultant at Boutique Wines, although it’s a bit of everything really! This year we are celebrating 21 years in business, and I came onboard 6 years ago. We are a small family run business with a team of 3, Johnny McMorrough, Nigel Hennessy and myself, so my role is really quite broad.
Where to begin! My main role would be to provide support to the restaurants, bars and retail shops nationwide that we service.

In this capacity, I carry out tastings and consultations to help build wine lists, train staff and host wine tasting events. Due to the pandemic, we had to quickly remodel our business and built an online store, so I liaise with my private clients on a daily basis, guiding them through our portfolio of wines, of which there are about 300 wines to choose from. I also handle the media and marketing side and help choose wines for
our portfolio alongside my husband, Johnny McMorrough. Behind the scenes and the far less glamourous part of the job, I am a decent glass washer, office tidier and very efficient at packing the orders.

How did you first get into the drinks industry?
I have 20 years’ experience in the hospitality industry working front of house as a restaurant manager. Around 2013 I moved to London for a couple of years and was lucky enough to find myself working in the iconic St.John Restaurant in Smithfield. I learned a lot at St.John
and when I returned to Ireland decided to pursue the WSET 3 in wine and spirits. My husband Johnny McMorrough had asked me to join the team at Boutique wines. I was a bit apprehensive at first as working alongside your partner can be a really bad idea. However, it
made sense to join forces and I now feel it has been of great benefit both as a couple and for the business.

What is your favourite part about working in the industry?
Meeting and chatting to all people involved in the process of the wine industry. From the wine growers to our clients. It’s joyful to listen to the passion of the wine growers, and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to be able to bring that passion and verve to our clients. The trust that our clients place in my opinion really means a lot to me, and I take that quite seriously, so when I get positive feedback about a wine from a client, that really floats my boat.

We’re meeting up for a wee drink after work – what are you having?
I would stick to something refreshing like an Albariño or a crisp dry Riesling.

You can only have one drink for the rest of your life; what’s in your glass?
A Burgundy

It’s Saturday night, what restaurant are you going to?
There are too many to list, but Davy Byrnes and The Bank Bar are my go-to places.

Is there a bucket list drink you want to try, or a dream drinks destination you’d love to visit?
I would love to visit Romanée-Conti in Burgundy and enjoy a tasting there!! Speaking of dream drinks destinations, I am just back from a trip to Perelada winery in Catalunya. The winery has just undergone a €50 million euro investment in order to place environmental and sustainability issues at the forefront. It truly is a magnificent feat of
engineering and has taken 20 years to complete. I would recommend a trip for any wine enthusiast to visit here. Their wines are estate bottled and some of the highest quality in Spain, plus there is a 5-star hotel, a Michelin star restaurant and a golf course! That was a very special trip.

The most memorable experience of your career?
Achieving the WSET 3 with merit and helping to navigate the business through the pandemic with Johnny and Nigel.

One thing you’d like to see more of in the drinks industry?
There is always room for more women in the industry. It’s a great industry to be in. And I would like to see a lot more good quality affordable organic wines, so much that conventional farming with herbicides and pesticides etc can become a thing of the past.
That’s two things, and there is more, but I’ll keep it at that.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a career in the industry?
Be willing to work your way up and learn. Hands-on experience is invaluable. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and opinions. Be prepared to work hard and enjoy the journey.

You can follow Avril’s wine journey and learn more about Boutique Wines below.