Wine enthusiasts and drinks industry professionals will be making their way to London Olympia this week for the 39th edition of the London Wine Fair. The expo has gained quite a reputation over the years and continues to grow in scale as well as content, with the addition this year of ‘The Extreme Tasting Challenge’ in partnership with The Wine Gang. The Innovation Zone which launched last year, featuring TED-style talks designed to be especially relevant for the on-trade, will be making a comeback, as will standalone section ‘Drinks Britannia’, showcasing the best of British wine.
According to TheDrinksBusiness.com, the number of UK wineries opening every year has reached record highs, and the wine industry is now one of the UK’s fastest growing sectors. We’ve picked out some of our favourite UK-based companies that we’re most looking forward to seeing exhibit at The London Wine Fair.
Established in 2016, Renegade is an urban winery based in East London. They make small batch artisanal wines using hand harvested grapes from around the UK and Continental Europe, which are then vinified in London. The company is named as such because ‘they don’t play by the rules’, resulting in the creation of uniquely handcrafted vegan and vegetarian wines, designed specifically for a modern palate.
Founder Warwick Smith felt that the world of winemaking needed a facelift. He wanted to innovate within the wine space instead of sticking to the long-standing constraints of European ‘appellation’ rules, and so Renegade was born in March 2016 with a small team of dedicated people ready to take on the challenge.
Renegade does everything a traditional winery would do, with a few exceptions. For example, they do not grow the grapes themselves, instead buying carefully selected grapes from passionate growers. They hand harvest, bring the fruit back in refrigerated lorries, and then process, age, bottle, cork, label and distribute wines from their winery in Bethnal Green. In addition, Warwick was determined to create minimum intervention wines, which is why the company uses naturally present yeasts and very little sulphur.
Described by The Financial Times as “one of the newer, younger independent merchants that has flowered in Britain”, Red Squirrel is a wine importer specialising in new regions, forgotten regions and native and alternative grape varieties. Based in West London, Red Squirrel represents 42 wineries from around the world and supply the independent on-trade and off-trade nationwide.
The business was founded by Nik Darlington, who started off his career in the rather different field of scuba-diving. He was a researcher for the House of Commons before spending nine years as a scuba-diving instructor with PADI. In July 2012, he finally returned home from Australia to start Red Squirrel Wine.
The company seeks out wines that tell a story, are woven into the history of their region, or are breaking the mould in some way. They also run wine courses for hospitality trade professionals and wine merchants. Nowadays Red Squirrel is one of the fastest growing specialist wine importers in Britain, supplying the public and trade with exciting bottles, some of which they have designed their own packaging for as well.
The production of English wine has seen record vintages in the last two years, seeing an average of around five million bottles per year.
Ever since the beginning,, Nyetimber has had a single aim: to make the finest English sparkling wine, one to rival the very best in the world, including Champagne. A true pioneer, Nyetimber was the first producer of English sparkling wine to exclusively grow the three celebrated grape varieties: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Each bottle of Nyetimber is made from one hundred percent estate-grown grapes.
Twelve years ago, whilst living in the West Sussex countryside, CEO Eric Heerema picked-up the trend of sparkling wine. Convinced that top quality sparkling wine could be produced beyond the borders of Champagne, he planted a vineyard in West Sussex and two years later acquired the Nyetimber estate.
Over the years, the company has achieved global acclaim, winning international awards and blind tasting competitions, as well as being recognised by some of the world’s most celebrated wine experts. Last year it announced a new range named ‘1086’, which will only be produced in certain vintages and will be priced at the level of several ‘prestige cuvee’ Champagnes.
As the old English proverb goes, “necessity is the mother of invention”. One of the big challenges wine businesses faced in the early nineties was the fact that once you open a bottle, the clock starts ticking and very soon the wine is passed its best. This made selling wine by the glass difficult as it often led to expensive wastage and a risk of serving poor quality wine to customers.
Enter Bermar: wine, sparkling wine, and Champagne preservation experts who use their unique Le Verre de Vin technology to deliver an impressive shelf-life of up to 21 days. The principle is simple: lock the fizz in Champagne and sparkling wine, and keep oxygen away from still wine. The science behind the systems is a little more complex and that’s why, after 25 years, Bermar systems are still recognised as the only way to effectively preserve both wines and Champagnes.
The company is now the world’s leading preservation system manufacturer, with over 40,000 customers in more than 80 countries. It has developed innovations to satisfy all needs, whether that’s cabinet solutions, modular units, standalone products or discrete space saving solutions.
If you like our picks and want to know more about how PHA can help you boost your brand and gain significant cut-through in the media, contact our award-winning team today to find out how we could help.