When one imagines a winery, evocative images of rolling hills, endless rows of grape-laden vines and aged barrels set against a faroff sunset most likely spring to mind – rather than a renovated railway arch in the bowels of East London. Nevertheless, urban wineries are on the rise, as entrepreneurs spot the opportunity to make, bottle and distribute wines within the walls of major cities.
Grape expectations: Discover urban wines at 34 Mayfair
23rd February 2018
From London and Paris to Cape Town, urban wineries are starting to crop up in cities around the world. 34 Mayfair is leading the trend with a dedicated selection
As a result of the current focus on innovation in wine-making – not to mention the growing demand for local grapes – winemakers are starting to set up shop in city-based locations. Now, restaurants are starting to pick up on the trend, helping urban wines transition from niche find to luxury indulgence. In London, meat, game and seafood eatery 34 Mayfair is leading the way with the first UK-based restaurant offering of urban-produced wines. The capital’s own offering includes an exclusive selection of a 2016 chardonnay and 2016 pinot noir from Bethnal Green-based winery Renegade Wines, alongside a 2015 grenache blanc and 2015 syrah from Les Vignerons Parisiens in Paris. A 2014 chenin blanc and chardonnay also features, made by the Dorrance winery in Cape Town, as well as their 2014 syrah. Going forward, 34 Mayfair will develop its relationship with urban wineries with additional locations around the world.
Having shaped the wine menu at 34 Mayfair, Guillem Kerambrun, Group Head Sommelier & Head Buyer for Caprice Holdings, took time to talk to Sphere about his thoughts on urban wines over a glass – or two – of Pinot Noir.
Tell us a bit about urban wine – what’s behind the trend?
Local wine consumption is gaining more and more traction around big cities. Moreover, most of the time urban wineries are able to capitalise on their proximity to city dwellers, and offer consumers many different experiences, such as a bar, a tasting room, a wine shop or even a restaurant.
Aside from London, Paris and Cape Town, what other cities are getting in on the act?
It's a real international trend, ranging from the Champagne houses in the middle of Reims to the United States, where urban wineries have really taken off in big cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and New York. Elsewhere, we see urban wineries appearing in Marseille and very soon Brussels, Amsterdam etc. We must also pay attention to those from Australia, such as Sydney or Melbourne.
What other urban winemakers should we know about?
I really like what Mark Snyder's team does at the Red Hook winery in Brooklyn; I had the opportunity to work with his wine when I was in New York and I was able to list his Chardonnay & his Cabernet Franc. Also, I’ve recently discovered Bow & Arrow, an urban winery in Portland – and Scott Frank’s Pinot Noir will be listed at 34 Mayfair very soon.
Some of your favourite urban wines?
It is always difficult for a sommelier to make this kind of choice as there are so many wonderful wines out there! I am quite fond of the wines of the Vignerons Parisiens – I like the precision of Matthieu Bosser's wines. Moreover, 34 Mayfair is the only place in London to have them on the wine list, which makes it quite special.