London Cru is the first urban winery to emerge in central London. Founded in 2013 by Adam Green, Will Tomlinson and Cliff Robinson, it’s housed in a former gin distillery in the Earls Court neighborhood. During a recent visit to the British capital, I spoke with Gavin Monery, London Cru’s oenologist.
The concept of urban wineries was born a few years ago in the United States. The idea is to produce wine in cities from grapes shipped from wine regions far from urban centers. Gavin, who is originally from Perth, Australia, trained in the Margaret River wine region. He later worked in Burgundy and the Rhone.
“In Australia, some vineyards are very far from the winery. It is therefore often necessary to transport the grapes over long distances. It can take up to 15 hours to transport the grapes and yet the wineries produce very good wines. The transport affects the quality of the harvested grapes very little or not at all. With meticulous work in the vineyard and a very precise logistical organization, at the end of the chain, we can produce wines of very high quality” – Gavin Monery, winemaker, London Cru
Currently, London Cru works with winemakers in France (Languedoc), Italy (Piedmont), Spain (Rias Baixas and Aragon) and the UK. Most of the winemakers work in organic or biodynamic agriculture. The production of London Cru remains confidential with only 36 000 bottles. The entire production is sold online and at the winery. Many London bars and restaurants are also customers, as they want to offer London produced wines on their menu.
Working with growers thousands of miles away is obviously not an easy task. Gavin visits each of the wineries two to three times a year and oversees all of the harvests. London Cru has chosen wine regions where the harvest periods do not overlap. All grapes used in the winemaking process are harvested by hand and transported by refrigerated truck to the winery within 36 hours.
“Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to work with different grape varieties from different terroirs every year. I’ve done three harvests in Burgundy, and God knows how much I love Burgundy, but every year it comes down to pinot noir and chardonnay. In just two years, I’ve worked with albariño, barbera, grenache, bacchus, and other varietals I’ve never touched before. It’s an incredible learning opportunity!” says Gavin.
As I was a bit pressed for time during my visit, I did not have the opportunity to taste many products. Only two in fact, the albariño and the syrah, very successful. London Cru also produces a chardonnay, a bacchus, a grenache, a cabernet sauvignon, a barbera and a rosé.
I highly suggest you visit London Cru on your next trip to London!