The Urban Wine Company™ was born out of an idea a few years back. Neighbours Richard and Paul were relaxing underneath a vine enjoying a glass of wine that had been flown half-way across the world. Realising they were sat in an urban garden of Eden surrounded by grape vines, they asked the impossible...
"Would it be possible to make a wine made from London grapes?"
So, in September 2009 they set about harvesting grapes grown in gardens, allotments, behind supermarkets and even at the side of railways. They teamed up with winemaking experts to produce the very first batch of 'Chateau Tooting'. Pleasantly surprised, if not a little amazed by its 'Drinkability' The Urban Wine Company™ was formed. Not only had a fantastic tasting wine been created using grapes grown in a city centre, something unique had also been born.
As news spread on the urban grapevine, local communities came together and joined in to produce wine.
The Urban Wine Company™ now has a proud tradition of making wine in the capital and would love others to get involved in what we do.
Pick the Join Us grape above and before you know it you too could be sat in your garden enjoying a glass of wine made from the very grapes that surround you.
Richard & Paul
Thinking about growing your own grapes to turn into wine, but don’t know where to start? Our beginners guide has all the information you need to start growing grapes in your own back garden!
Members wrestle squirrels and birds to harvest their grapes.
Grapes are taken to the Annual Harvest in buckets, pot and pans.
The grand weighing takes place.
The grapes are then driven 130 miles to the winery.
Precious cargo is loaded into the wine machinery.
The alchemy "science bit" begins.
The wine tasting takes place (it's a tough job you know).
Member's wine arrives back in London.
Just in time for the rosé drinking season.
Here's what some nice people have been saying about us on the
Urban Grape Vine. (We didn't have to bribe a single one of them either!)
Josh Coe – Tooting, SW London
Josh lives in Tooting Bec and inherited his first vine over four years ago when he moved house and found one growing in his garden. Josh is a keen gardener, though says it is hard to find space in London in which to do much real growing. However, he does manage to find some great open spaces in Tooting Bec, as well as a great sense of community.
"The person we bought our flat from in Tooting was a wine merchant, so I guess he knew something about grapes. We got another three from my Dad who makes his own wine too, so I guess I inherited a love of grape growing in several ways.
"My wife found out about The Urban Wine Co. through @abouttooting on Twitter. We took part in our first harvest this year. Unfortunately our grapes were ripe early, but we didn't want to miss the harvest fun, so we froze them! The Urban Wine Co. were very welcoming and accepted our frozen grapes without question. So our only obstacle now is keeping the birds off the fruit.
"Looking after the vines has given me a great deal of pleasure, and even more so being part of the Urban Wine Co. It is wonderful to be part of something in our community and it's also a great way to meet new people. Having wine at the end of it all is a great incentive to get involved!"
Agnes Troszt – King's Cross, N London
Agnes is based in King's Cross with Alara Wholefoods, a company producing organic and gluten free cereals along with vegan super-foods. Agnes and the Alara team have been active members of the Urban Wine Co. since 2009, when they planted their first vines.
"We decided to plant Rondo Red and Solaris White vines. As a company we cherish organic and more importantly, local food. The Urban Wine Company emphasises the importance of living green and we felt that becoming members would be a great next step in our green mission!
"I enjoy every bit of growing the grapes, even carrying the compost! - but especially drinking the great wine the Urban Wine Co. facilitates. Such initiatives are great and are definitely needed to raise awareness of the importance of food growing. They have a great community building power.
"Recently, starlings have been our biggest challenge. They seem to find their way through the netting I put up and eat all of the grapes. The Urban Wine team have been great at recommending netting companies to buy from to help protect our vines.
"When we are not nurturing our wines, we work in our permaculture garden just behind our factory. Here we enjoy green areas as much as we can. King's Cross recently became a vibrant and lively area thanks to development. There have been many cultural and urban changes. Now we really enjoy at being at the centre of all of these events and activities."
Fine wine, we are authoritatively told
Must be fondly nurtured before it's sold
Canes carefully pruned, from classic vines
All trellised out in tight battalion lines
And picked on the best day of the year.
These are rules to which you must adhere
If you want to make a drinkable wine
Or else your efforts will wither on the vine.
Which is what makes it all so cool
That Chateau Tooting shatters every rule
Grapes are drawn from gardens and allotments small
Or maybe hanging from a neighbour's wall
From the extremes of London near and far
Though no one knows what vines they are
And all brought to a central pick-up place
At a given time and so starts the race
To get the fruit to a winery fast
Where using skills quite unsurpassed
Their alchemists turn this base London mould
Once a year into viniferous gold
Which is why I am usually rooting
For South London's prime wine, Chateau Tooting.
We'd love to add some friendly new faces to the Urban Wine family. If you have a grapevine or know of somebody who does then here's where to get involved.