“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard”
Winnie the Pooh
Alas, Magdalena will be leaving The Vinorium on Friday 13 August and heading to pastures new. The Vinorium has and will always be an incredibly close team which makes the loss of any team member upsetting. Ordinarily, the announcement is made and we move on however, Magda is an extraordinary person who deserves the royal Vinorium send off. With your blessing, I would like to dedicate today’s email to someone special and share my story of how we met and how Magda has intrinsically helped shape the success of The Vinorium.
September 2014 - The office doorbell rang which is not uncommon however, one of the team members came into my office and explained that a young lady presented herself as she is keen to be employed by The Vinorium. Typically, I am sure most businesses would, accept the CV and dismiss the person out of hand. But I thought that someone who personally took the time and effort to come to my office deserves the opportunity for an interview. As impromptu as Magda’s arrival, I invited her into my office for an immediate interview, which and seven years later went rather well.
Magda was overflowing with enthusiasm which is such an infectious quality, and something I look for in my team members. I had no immediate vacancies however, I somehow wanted to provide Magda with an opportunity which I did, albeit in a rather loose sense. As a trial, Magda joined my team and I on the South Bank of London where we pitched our new pop-up wine store and tasting experience. Magda was joined by our team of seasoned wine veterans and all holders of the WSET diplomas – My God did she shine. She was fearless and put the rest to shame. Life on the South Bank was short lived, which is another story however, Magda was a keeper and came back to our HQ in Kent and set out on an extraordinary seven-year career.
Like Magda, The Vinorium was going through a period of transition, and it took several years to find our niche – often, the days were long and at times, unsettling. Except for Michelle (almost ten years’ service) and Magda, the old guard are no longer with us. In the early years, Magda accepted any task she was given – she worked incredibly hard, studiously and never grumbled. To many, Magda is a confident young woman – to me, she is a private person, considerate and by far the quietest member of our team.
I was keen to test Magda and during the latter stages of 2016, I took her under my wing and announced she would be joining me on the sales team. I am sure she will not mind the reference – she stormed off (the only time) as she believed her sales target was too high. It was fascinating to watch Magda’s reaction. Clearly, I had more faith than Magda had in herself, which and a further five-years on, remains unchanged. Year-on-year, Magda has shone like the brightest star – her progress has been truly amazing and I am incredibly proud of her.
From 2017 Magda gave her new role everything that was physically possible – I have only worked with one other person who dedicated themselves to the same degree.
Without asking and certainly not expecting, Magda prioritised The Vinorium in favour of her private life, which and as the founder, is truly humbling. The allure of the financial benefits were attractive for any person of Magda’s age however, it was her unquestionable loyalty which has no monetary value. If she believes, Magda has the fortitude to stand in the centre of the fire and without shrinking back.
I am deeply saddened by Magda’s decision to leave and not necessarily for selfish reasons. As a young woman, she came to the UK in 2011 and became a British Citizen in 2019, something she is especially proud of. I have been a mentor to her, and I hope a good one. Of course, our styles are completely different, but our goals remain firmly aligned. I had hoped, something we have been discussing for well over a year, to teach Magda how to be the ‘new’ leader of The Vinorium, eventually taking full control of the day-to-day operations which would provide me with the time to head back to the Mountains for months at a time, and give her the platform to open her wings fully.
Magda lives a modest life with her partner and their aspirations are equally modest – A nice house in the countryside, a lovely garden and a German Shepherd which is something else we have in common (both being previous owners). Being the director of The Vinorium would provide her with the income which she firstly deserves and would provide the financial means to make her wishes come true. She never believed she had the skills, but and reverting to my earlier comment, I know she does. I wished to support her fears and to provide a path which will show her that everything is possible. Sadly, that is a path left without her footprints. A quote from the French poet / philosopher, Guillaume Apollinaire comes to mind, “Come to the edge. We can't. We're afraid. Come to the edge. We can't. We will fall! Come to the edge. And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew.”
The pandemic has fundamentally changed Magda’s job role. In fact, it has changed how The Vinorium has operated over the course of eighteen-months which has created uncertainty for her. For many of us, we have examined our own mortality and how we want to live our lives. I come to work simply as I love my job – wine has been a passion of mine since the age of eighteen (I am now forty-eight). Equally, Magda loves her job however, and during our many conversations of late, she wishes for one thing which I cannot provide, or she cannot obtain from being at The Vinorium – and that’s having a career which is a ‘true’ passion.
Magda’s decision has now settled with me, but the sadness remains and will do for a very long time – I am in no rush. Sadly, Magda’s bright spark has been flickering for too long – eventually, and without change, the light goes out. Magda has asked herself what makes her come alive and the answer lies outside of The Vinorium walls. The world desperately needs people like Magda - the world needs people to come alive and for this reason, I wrap my arms tightly around her before sending her on her new journey. What a truly magnificent person she is. She is super-special, and I wish the world had more like her…
Magda - May you live all the days of your life with the biggest and brightest smile. You deserve to…
A message from Magdalena…
It’s only upon reflecting on my time at The Vinorium that I realised it’s been nearly 7 years! I vividly recall the chilly, grey and rainy days travelling on a train to London, to The Vinorium pop-up when it was first launched in the Autumn of 2014. Clearly, it’s been an exhilarating journey throughout and I feel incredibly fortunate and proud to have contributed to the astonishing and rapid growth of The Vinorium. I loved its concept when it was in its mere infancy and today, The Vinorium is a force to be reckoned with and a wonderful home to over 35 talented and inspiring Aussie producers. Nevertheless, I still believe that this is only the beginning to something far greater…
I never felt the passing of time and as they say, happy people don’t count the time. Undoubtedly, there are a few key contributors to this. The first, and an absolute number one, is the wonderful team of people who make The Vinorium. I had never truly experienced what being a ‘part of the team’ really meant before I met this lovely bunch. It’s more of an adopted family with remarkably close ties. I’m sure that many customers will agree with me here as our close alliance isn’t something we particularly hide, but we often extend it to the wider circle of friends of The Vinorium – call it one, large Vinorium family.
Most importantly, I will always remain immensely grateful to the entire team for their kindness, compassion, boundless support and solidarity. The beautiful gift of their heartfelt friendship is something I hold very close to my heart.
Of course, my gratitude towards the team isn’t complete without special thanks to the person at the helm, Stu. Not only did he open a big door of opportunity to the sector I had no previous experience in, the truth is that he had always kept many doors open and encouraged me to develop and excel at the same time. I will remain eternally grateful for the confidence and trust Stu has always put in me over the years.
I wouldn’t be able to conclude without thanking all our dear customers. You have continuously proved that you are a supportive, welcoming and honest bunch with warm hearts and a great sense of humour. Just as much as I was looking forward to seeing the team every day, the same counts for you all. You were of course an integral part of my working life and you filled it with much joy and laughter. From the bottom of my heart, a massive ’Thank You’ to you all.
While it is sad to be departing, it is also an exciting time as I am dedicated to following another passion of mine, which is (and has always been since I can remember) film and photography. It all started with an old film camera which belonged to my Dad. It was a Praktica MTL 5B, produced in Dresden, in what was back then; East Germany. Nothing fancy, but I loved the sound of its shutter and the fact that you had to manually scroll the film after taking a picture, as well as rewind the entire film (all manually) once you had used up the roll. More importantly, the limited amount of picture frames on each roll (and their costs) taught me to shoot with consideration which ultimately sharpened my vision, to put it metaphorically. You end up developing a certain sensitivity to the world around you.
Unfortunately, a passion without utter commitment and sacrifices remains but a hobby… Therefore, I decided to take the plunge and hone my craft with determination to become a professional. I can’t wait to see where this will take me, but I am equally excited for the journey itself.
Saying a final ‘good-bye’ seems entirely inappropriate as I am sure that this is by no means an end to the great relationships built over the years. Let’s just say ‘bye for now’...
As a farewell gift, we asked Magda to select her favourite, mixed case…
(Between you and I, she will not be leaving with wine. Instead, we have organised something very special, but its all very hush, hush (until Friday 13th).