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.