Lona Jones - London Cru Urban Winery
London Cru Urban Winery - SW6
Events Ambassador and Customer Sales
I’ve been working for Roberson for around a year. I’m also studying part time for a wine business degree at Plumpton College and taking the WSET diploma.
What are the advantages of urban wine making in the UK?
The advantages of making wine in the heart of London are numerous. Travel, access to customers and communication links, to mention a few. Our business model allows us source high quality grapes from renowned small producers in Europe and the UK and get them to our winery within a 36-hour time limit. The urban nature of our business then enables us to make and age our wines on site and gives us the ability to distribute them locally, though winery sales or worldwide, via Roberson Wine, the much-lauded online side of our business.
What drawbacks and restrictions do you come across?
Labeling restrictions regarding grapes sourced from outside the UK, created a few hurdles, initially. According to UK food standard regulations, we are not allowed to specify the grape variety on the label (a legality that doesn’t apply to English grapes). However, we see every restriction as a challenge, so the opportunity to team up with talented creative partners and design a new label seemed an obvious choice. They designed our latest award-winning label, which cleverly indicates the type of varietal within the context of a visually striking design.
..we see every restriction as a challenge...
Photo Credits: London Cru
Which grape varieties do you use and what regions do you source them from? How do you get them to your winery?
Depending on the vintage, we produce white wines, including Bacchus and Chardonnay sourced from Kent, Essex and Sussex and Albarino from Galicia in Spain. Our range of reds includes a gorgeous Pinot noir sourced from an area close to the Pyrenees in southern France, Cabernet Sauvignon from the Languedoc, Barbera from Piedmont (where else?) and Syrah and Garnacha from Calatayud in Spain.
All grapes are picked by hand and transported in refrigerated transport to our winery within 36 hours.
Do you feel that you have more freedom to experiment than a classic grower/producer? If so, why is that?
We don’t have any outside restrictions regarding the range of wines we can produce. However, we set our own high standards and are very strict about many things, particularly the growers we work with, the varietals we choose and the quality of wines we produce.
Which of your wines are you most excited about?
From the 2017 vintage onwards, we made a decision to include a greater percentage of UK sourced grapes in our range and from 2018 we will be concentrating 100% on homegrown fruit. Our 2017 Chancery Lane chardonnay is a wonderful example of the top-quality wines we produce. When first bottled it showed a fresh Chablis style minerality with orchard fruit aromas, but examples we have tasted recently are developing some stone fruit and baked bread notes. Delicious!
What is the general perception of an urban winery as it’s ‘unconventional’?
We love to open up our winery and show enthusiastic wine lovers around. The reaction of most people is delight that there’s a winery hidden down a west London back street. Our building dates from 1898 and was an old Gin distillery so there’s a lot of alcohol-related history within.
Where do you think the urban wine making scene is going in the UK over the next few years?
If we look to the States where the urban winery scene is huge, we can see a trend to bring wineries and tasting rooms closer to consumers. This can only increase in popularity here, as drinkers become more interested in the provenance of their favourite wines. We’re delighted that so many others in the UK have followed our lead and decided to open urban Wineries. In our view, it’s great news for wine; a rising tide floats all boats.
So you want to start an Urban Winery...what do you need to be looking for?
Backing, it’s not a cheap option. A great idea and a talented winemaker, for starters…