Think ‘London booze’ and what comes to mind? Warm bitter? Beardy craft lager? A good slosh of mother’s ruin? Top-grade wine? Errr….
Well quit your muttering, naysayers, as our alcohol-loving city is doing a perfectly fine line in reinvigorated urban winemaking thankyouverymuch. What’s more, one of London’s upstart new winemakers has now opened the city’s first ‘winery tap room’, inviting punters to slosh back vino right next to the artisanal equipment in which it’s made, in an informal, brewery-style drop-in bar setting. Wonderful!
Following in the tracks of the capital’s first modern winery London Cru (who set up shop in 2013) came Renegade London Wine, a small batch winemakers in Bethnal Green, now open to the public on Friday and Saturday evenings. It was founded a year ago by ex-marketer Warwick Smith. He was swiftly joined by New Zealand winemaker Josh Hammond. Together, they’re taking a back to basics approach to the craft (i.e., without any fancy machinery) and celebrating the dormant traditions of winemaking in the city – though thankfully eschewing the grim-sounding, honey-infused 'sweets' wines of yesteryear.
Between the two of ‘em (with the occasional help of a few friends), they do ‘literally everything’, Warwick explains. That means destemming the grapes – imported from growers in the UK and Europe – by hand with chicken wire, hand pressing the grapes in a wooden basket press and hand bottling, corking, labelling and wax sealing the bottles. All of which they're on hand to chat about when the tap room's open. Sounds like thirsty work – so we’ll stick to drinking the Sauvignon Blanc, Bacchus, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Chestnut Aged Bacchus Marc they’ve been knocking out. Chin Chin!
The Renegade winery tap room is open to the public on Fridays from 5pm-11.30pm; and on Saturdays from midday-11.30 pm.
Like keepin' it local? Then check out our list of London's best breweries.