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The Chequers Inn crowned UK’s best wine pub

The Chequers Inn, in Bilton-in-Ainsty, is raising a glass after being crowned Best Wine Bar/Pub at the Great British Pub Awards ceremony.

Organised by The Publican’s Morning Advertiser, the awards are established as “the one to win” by licensees and are widely recognised as the biggest event in the pub industry’s calendar.

The Chequers, the flagship pub of Ainsty Inns and part of the Yorkshire-based Ainsty Group, beat off competition from four other national finalists after each pub had been announced as regional winners in the Best Wine Bar/Pub category in July. 

The category recognises bars/pubs with an excellent and profitable wine offer that has been a key part of the pub’s success in the past year.

Owner of Ainsty Inns, Antony Pratt established the group with the acquisition of The Chequers in 2012 with a focus on locally-sourced food and ingredients. This mission is coupled with providing customers with exceptional wines from around the world.

In January, Ainsty Inns became one of only a handful of venues in Yorkshire to offer Thienot champagne, as enjoyed by stars like Emma Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars ceremony for the last two years.

Its partnership with Yorkshire Vintners has also seen it offer celebrated English sparkling wine, Nyetimber, produced in West Sussex by one of the world’s most proficient family winemaking teams. 

Antony said: “We are delighted to have scooped the top prize! Our success in the regional category is still sinking in but to be recognised as the best wine bar/pub in the UK is absolutely amazing!

“We couldn’t be honoured with a greater accolade and the award is a testament to all the hard work everyone at The Chequers has put in over the last year.

“We have invigorated the pub after forming Ainsty Inns and have travelled throughout Europe and beyond as well as working closely with some of the UK’s leading merchants to compile a wine selection to match a variety of food, occasions and budget.

“The evening put on by the Publican’s Morning Advertiser was a fantastic occasion and we were able to enjoy a glass or two ourselves in celebration!”      

Mandy Wragg, freelance food journalist and part of the judging panel, said: “Antony and his experienced team have put together a wine list you won’t find in many country inns.

“You’re encouraged to extend and refine your palate with many of the wines on offer by the glass and regular pairing dinners taking place. This postcard-perfect pub in sleepy Ainsty isn’t just a pretty face!”

Plans to build upon The Chequers’ national success have already been laid out with the launch of a wine club at The Chequers where customers will be able to purchase wines by the case and view tasting and buying tips on a dedicated YouTube channel.

Its two sister pubs, The Swan & Talbot at Wetherby and the Beehive at Thorner, also stock the same wines and offer matching wine lists. 

Antony Pratt - The Chequers Inn owner

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