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Stroud & Proud: Athila Roos on wine and raising a glass with Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Michael Caine

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Athila Roos was born in Brazil and grew up in Sao Paulo, obtaining  a degree in advertising and marketing. He moved to the London when he was 23 and has worked in and around the drinks industry since.

He completed two stints in wine supplying businesses at Bibendum Wines and Wine Source and seven years as a Sommelier for Roka & Zuma restaurants, The Savoy Hotel, The Arts Club in London’s Mayfair, and three  years as Private Client Director working for the family of Remy Martin. Four years ago, he set up his own business, Wine Agent – looking after private clients and their fine wine and spirits collections and investments.

As a family, Athila decided he wanted a better quality of life and moved to Stroud in June 2021. In December 2022 he decided to add another string to his bow and opened Holy Spirits – an independent Whisky, Fine Wine & Spirits shop in Nailsworth.

We put Athila under the spotlight

When are you at your happiest? 

When hiking a mountain with my family and friends, picnic in the backpack & wee dram of something tasty to be had overlooking the landscape and taking in the views surrounding me.

What has been the scariest moment in your life?

Losing my father just over three years ago. My brother called telling me to come home ASAP. I got an overnight flight to Brazil that same day. My father was in the hospital bed and spent the day with him. He left us the next afternoon and I was there the very moment it happened.

I’m glad that I saw him and even though he only had certain moments of lucidity (with all the heavy medications he was on), I told him how much he meant to me and us as a family.

DSC07849 | Stroud & Proud: Athila Roos on wine and raising a glass with Tom Cruise, Gwyneth Paltrow and Sir Michael Caine
Athila Roos and Katherine Bryan-Merrett by the mural in the new Holy Spirits shop in Nailsworth.

What has been your biggest disappointment?  

Won’t share details but involves some extremely bitter accusations during my divorce. Felt like the undoing of any good that existed during the nine-year relationship.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? 

I don’t live like a king (very far from it), but I drink like one. 

Who is the most famous person in your phone? 

Ha! Not sure I should share whose contacts I’ve got, but over the years I’ve toasted a glass of something special with quite a few ‘celebrities’. To name a few: Floyd Mayweather, Sir Michael Cane, Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Beyonce and Jay-Z, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jimmy Choo OBE and even our very own spaceman Tim Peake. 

What is your favourite smell? 

That of wet earth (Petrichor). Ideally walking through a forest right after the rain. 

Who would play you in a film about your life? 

I guess it would be a cross of: Tom Hanks: for the earlier years… I was – and still am – a bit goofy and naïve. Tom plays this sort of character with so much ease.

Benicio del Toro: Only after university is when I started ‘finding myself’ and feeling confident in my own skin. Benicio has got a swagger and looks of someone that “has gone through a lot, but is up for more” that perhaps reflect better the post 20s and current stage in my life. 

What do you like most about living in the Stroud area? 

We’ve moved here just over two years ago and sometimes it still feels a little bit like a holiday. Walking through the Stroud Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings, going to work on my shop in Nailsworth (surrounded by the hills), waiting for the cows to cross the road as we’re stuck in ‘traffic’ or walking the dog in Standish Woods… It’s all magical to me.

What would you improve about Stroud? 

It must be said that a lot of things need improving. The roads have more potholes than the moon, the Internet is one of the slowest in the country and there are so many businesses that are shut.

It really feels like whoever is in charge, isn’t. I’ve always been an advocate that no matter where you go, you leave it better than what you’ve encountered. Whether that’s a house you lived in, a job you’ve worked on or anywhere else. We moved here because we feel that there’s so much opportunity to make it [Stroud] beautiful, unique and characterful. We have so many talented people living in this area, but the infrastructure seems to be crumbling rather than improving. I’d start there. The rest would follow naturally.

What is your ideal weekend? 

If at home: Morning walk and shopping in Stroud Farmers Market, long walk/hike ending with a pub lunch (Black Horse for the views and whisky selection, or the Woolpack for the views and food), hosting friends at ours for a long  dinner (both me and my wife have worked for years in hospitality. We love hosting) – normally a four-course meal affair with some great bottles of wine and a necessary visit to my cellar where countless bottles of rare whisky and other spirits are waiting to be savoured. 

If outside: A weekend of hiking and exploring forest and mountains (did I mention Scotland previously) with stops for pub lunches and dinners indoors with friends, all drenched in good wine, whisky and games.

What is on your bucket list? 

Wild camping in Snowdonia national park and also the Western Highlands of Scotland.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Life is too short! I’ve wasted so much time simply being polite and making small talk that resulted in mediocre relationships (both personally and professionally).

A combination of a divorce and a toxic work environment made me change drastically and that filter is now permanently ON. If it feels natural AND mutual, then keep it going. If it doesn’t, stop wasting your and other people’s time.

What book and song would you take with you if stranded on an uninhabited island? 

Book: The Island by Aldous Huxley (ironic considering the setting, I suppose).

Song: Peer Gynt’s “Morning”. It is such a magical piece of musical marvel, uplifting and wholesome.

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