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Vineyard brightens the City

The inclement British weather abated for a few hours yesterday evening, and some patches of blue sky were overhead as the London version of the McGuigan City Vineyard had its official launch. Located in Broadgate Arena next to Liverpool St Station, it is estimated that up to 3 million people will walk past the vineyard every day, which opens at 11am and closes around 6pm, until July 11.

Winemakers Brian and Neil McGuigan and James Evers, as well as Paul Schaafsma, regional director for Australian Vintage (McGuigan Simeon), were all on hand to speak enthusiastically about the wines, and the City Vineyard project in particular.

They will be present during the remaining three days to walk people through the vineyard and explain more about the wines, the soil and the grapes.

The aim is to bring the consumer closer to the product, offering a little insight into the process by which a grape on a vine eventually becomes a wine. As well as the vines, there is a Cellar Door, where people can sample and buy some of McGuigan’s latest vintages. Entry to the vineyard itself is free.

A number of wines from the 2008 vintage have been flown in especially, including a Swan Valley Sauvignon Blanc and an Adelaide Hills Pinot Gris, the first chance to taste this new vintage in the UK. A black-tie dinner amongst the vines is also planned, to celebrate the company’s 15 years in the market.

In addition to this, McGuigan used last night to launch a new brand specifically designed for the UK market, McGuigan Grey Label.

The vineyard concept and project has certainly not come cheap, and McGuigan are definitely putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to the promotion of their product. The feeling from Schaafsma had been that the UK trade had not been doing enough in terms of innovation when it came to engaging with the consumer.

The success of the original city vineyard in Sydney was also a spur for a brand looking to go mainstream in the UK and Europe.

Alexis Hercules 09/07/08 

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