Our Story

An original Ellis delivery van outside their offices in Richmond.
Three Brothers
Robert Ellis, James Ellis & William Ellis (Left to right)

Founded in 1822, Ellis is still family run to this day.

Joseph Ellis started his wine business in 1822 – 200 years ago this year. At that time, the Ellis family was also running the Star & Garter Inn on Richmond Hill. However in 1864, Joseph’s son George decided to sell the hotel in order to focus on the wine business.


Initially he ran the business from 36-37 Leadenhall Street in London where all the deliveries were by horse-drawn carts. By 1926, the business needed to expand so it moved to Richmond and, besides benefiting from bigger offices and cellars, the business also acquired a fleet of vans. On the wall of the Richmond building (which originally belonged to Sir Whittaker Ellis and is now The Ivy) a vine was planted in 1840 and is still growing to this day!


Ellis & Co, as it was then known, also had 12 wine merchant shops in and around London. In a true entrepreneurial move, the business branched out to export their own special ‘Vat 99’ blend of whisky to America, which became an important market after prohibition was repealed. In fact, the very first consignment accompanied the Queen Mary on her maiden voyage to the USA.


Colin Ellis and his cousin Shaun Cunningham launched a new business in 1978. Based in St Margarets, near Richmond, it focussed on customers around the south west of London. Since then, the company has grown and first moved down the road to premises in Teddington, finally settling with a warehouse and cellars close to Twickenham Rugby Ground.


Today, the Ellis family continue to manage the business with James, Robert and William at the helm and with a fantastic team of staff have built a thriving wine importer/agency business in the true spirit of its founding fathers when they started the family wine merchant business two centuries ago.


Two hundred years is a long time in a nation’s history, let alone a business. To put it into perspective this timeline shows some important milestones in recent history” 


1822 – Ellis wine business started

1836 – Morse code invented by Samuel Morse

1888 – Ballpoint pen invented by J Loud

1897 – Marconi patents radio communication

1932 – Frank Whittle patents the turbo jet engine

1970 – Pocket calculator invented

1978 – Colin Ellis and Shaun Cunningham create current Ellis wine business

1984 – Mobile phones commercially available

1989 - Sir Tim Berners-Lee writes a proposal for what will become the World Wide Web

1999 – Morse code ceases as the international standard for maritime distress calls

2002 – Ellis move to current premises near Twickenham, SW London

2013 – Ellis hold our first annual tasting at Vintners Hall in the City of London

Ladies moving wine barrels