Wine Pantry to open new Borough Market event space

Independent retailer The Wine Pantry is returning to Borough Market with a new wine education and event space.

The company – which was set up in May 2011 and specialises in English wine – is also launching a crowdfunding campaign to raise £150k to rebuild the website and spend on stocks.

The retail business moved from its original Borough Market booth on Stoney Street – a 14 sq ft outlet in the market – to a bigger site on Devonshire Row near Liverpool Street in September last year, but owner Julia Stafford said the chance to return to a larger site in Borough Market that would enable it to diversify was “too good to miss”.

Stafford will concentrate on building a niche education and event business that can also supply English wines and spirits wholesale to other events companies, pop-ups and caterers and wants to partner with local companies. The new wholesale business will run alongside the Devonshire Row retail outlet as a separate, wholesale and education business. This will suit the site’s upstairs location, which does not have the level of visibility and footfall that a retail outlet of its size would require.

The 1,400 sq ft space  can accommodate around 60 – 100 people for events, she said.

“English wine has changed dramatically and we can’t compete with Waitrose who now sell about a hundred English wines rather than the half a dozen they used to stock. What stands out [with us] is experience, interaction and the ability for consumer to compare wines against each other,” Stafford told db. Similarly, the new wholesale business will not target bars and restaurants due to the huge competition in the market, with the likes of Enotria and Conviviality’s on-trade arms Bibendum and Matthew Clark, Stafford said.

“We will focus on one-off events, for people who are looking for English wines, or who prefer a London supplier, or corporate events to offer comparative tastings, as well as hosting producer-led tasting and education events, which consumers can pre-book online.”

“The focus is very much on the tasting experience,” she said, adding that with the closure of Vinopolis, there was nowhere in the area for wine lovers to go to compare and contrast wines, but the new education outlet would help this.

Stafford is aiming for around 200 different wines that are commercially available, but also wants to have a wall of around 300 gins, as well as a handful of beers made by wineries, such as Chapel Down’s Curious Brew, or and will use it to boost the retail outlet at Devonshire Row.

“We want it to be a platform for English Wine,” she said.

10 Responses to “Wine Pantry to open new Borough Market event space”

  1. Jane Beacham says:

    Stafford clearly hasn’t paused to wonder WHY Vinopolis closed ….

    • Dear Jane,

      We studied them enviously from our 14sft shop on the same road, until the day they shut and we discovered the space was going to be turned into apartments and retail space.

      The location, space and a number of their communicators were exceptional. The tour wasn’t as interactive and engaging as we hope our tasting will be.

      We genuinely aspire to create a fun and educational platform alongside a small wholesale offering of English wine and British spirits.

      We are very lucky to have secured the space we have and we will try to raise the funds to make it the success the producers, winemakers and industry as a whole, deserves.

      If it was easy, it would have been done! The sale of Vinopolis will secure a far better return for investors than our wine tastings and events spaces will.

      Hopefully, we can win you over when we open!

      Kind regards,

      Julia

  2. Keith Boon says:

    If anyone has ever been to a wine or spirit tasting run by Julia Stafford they will realise that the experience does stand-out, but not for the right reasons! Woefully lacking in knowledge of wines & spirits, the techniques & methods used to produce them combined with an inability to offer any insightful tasting notes mean you would learn more reading the label on the back of the bottle.
    Save your money and go elsewhere!

  3. I’m sorry to hear you were disappointed in a tasting I held. Please could you advise when and where this was? Your name does not come up in any bookings or wine related events and we would like to address any negative experiences? We aim to present a relaxed introduction to English Wines and Spirits and can go into further detail and answer more complicated questions on the distilling or wine making process. We appreciate all constructive feedback and will continue to improve our offering with the amazing new space we have secured and crowd funding to grow our team and variety of wines and spirits. Julia Stafford

  4. jacquie Richardson says:

    The Highgate Society invited the Wine Pantry to run an English Wine Tasting in the Society’s premises a few years ago. It was one of our most popular events. Julia Stafford was outstanding – professional, entertaining and informative – and the matching English food they chose was delicious. Everyone learned a lot and one lucky participant won a wine tasting in the quiz. In fact we are considering inviting her back for another tasting. We wish her luck with her crowd funding for her new space. She deserves to succeed.

  5. Amanda Faul says:

    I met Julia when The Wine Pantry first opened in Borough Market and have remained a firm fan and supporter ever since. Over the years, I’ve been to numerous tastings, asked Julia’s advice when looking for special bottles for occasions/birthdays and spent many an hour sampling different wines and chatting about them and each and every experience has been a delight. Julia’s knowledge of wine in general and English wine in particular never ceases to impress me and I’ve felt privileged to watch as her business has developed over the years; very excited to watch this next chapter in The Wine Pantry’s growth and wish her every success with it!

  6. Matt Knight says:

    I conducted a tasting event with Julia a few years back and can’t say enough as to how professional and informative Julia was to the guests that attended. It was a pleasure to work together and I hope we can do so again within this new project. The business is a breath of fresh air in the industry and one that we at Riedel are keen to continue to work with and support wherever possible.

  7. Celia Brooks says:

    I seriously cannot wait for The Wine Pantry to reopen in Borough Market for tastings! I run the only official tasting tour of Borough Market (I’m exclusively licensed by the Market) and in the last 4 years or so when The Wine Pantry was in Stoney Street, I would either start or finish my tours there with my clients. It was a highlight either way – off with a bang or a grand finale. Partly because the wine is so damned delicious and a surprise discovery for many people. But mostly because of Julia’s brilliant presentation of the tastings. Sometimes one of her staff would conduct the tastings – and they were always knowledgeable and charming – but when Julia graced us with her presence, is was always a memorable treat. She founded her business on a genuine passion for English wine and her expertise is unparalleled. She always delivered the tastings with panache, really engaging people and connecting them with the wine – a rare talent. Some wine “experts” I’ve encountered are either unbearably boring or shallow fact-spewing show offs. Not Julia – she is the real deal; my clients always left inspired. I look forward to welcoming you back Julia, I have missed The Wine Pantry terribly!

  8. David says:

    Julia presented a tasting of English wines to our wine group a little while back which was excellent and really enjoyed by everyone. Julia’s knowledge and enthusiasm really shone through.
    It is a while since we had had an English wine tasting and it was felt that the wines presented showed how English wines have improved significantly.
    The tasting and Julia’s presentation was just what suited our group as we like not only details about the wine but to have some background/narrative regarding the wines and the makers.
    We wish Julia every success in her new venture.

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