Indie retailer Vagabond plans London winery

Independent wine retailer Vagabond Wines is planning to open an urban English winery in London over the next 18 months, including a visitor centre to attract tourists.

Vagbond Northcore Rd IMG_0078

Vagabond Wine opened its fourth store on the Northcote Road in July

Vagabond’s owner Stephen Finch told db the retailer is hoping to partner with Plumpton College to source Sussex-grown grapes for Vagabond to make its own English range of still wines. The college, which offers degrees in wine business and production has its own 10 ha vineyard, dedicated Wine Centre with winery and research centre in Sussex.

Finch said he was particularly interested in producing a Vagabond Bacchus, which is fast becoming the flagship grape for English still wine.

“We’re big fans of Bacchus and there are other things – possible a Dornfelder,” he told db. “We are pretty sceptical when it comes to red, but the recent vintage of Gusbourne’s Pinot Noir was very good, so that tells me we need to keep an open mind.”

It will concentrate on still wines, he added as there was “so much good sparkling” out there already.

The retailer is currently looking for a site in London to house the winery, which he admitted was a challenge. If successful, he plans to make it a visitor attraction, where people can visit the winery and gain an appreciation of English wine. “We think there is a big opportunity there,” Finch says. “We want to do it in such a way that people can come to the venue and experience the winery.”

The retailer opened it fourth shop this month, on the Northcote Road in Clapham, and two further stores are in development, at the Nova Victoria development, and at Battersea Power Station.

The move would be the capital’s second urban winery following the establishment of London Cru by Roberson’s Wine in Earl’s Court in 2013. London Cru produces around 2,500 cases a year, sourcing fresh grapes directly from specific appellations in Southern France and Italy, however food labelling laws prevent it from putting the grape variety or vintage on the bottle in favour of calling it ‘European Community Wine’ on pack. However the company’s latest releases have been named in order that the first three letters of the wine match the varietal.

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