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Cliff Roberson to open London's first urban winery

Published:  25 July, 2013

London Cru, set to be the first urban boutique winery in London, is busy preparing for harvest and getting ready to open its cellar doors to the public this November in central London.

The venture is backed by Cliff Roberson, founder of Roberson Wine, and private investor Will Tomlinson with the winery being built under Roberson Wine's Earls Court head office. It is looking to crush and make quality wines sourced from prestigious vineyards in Bordeaux, Languedoc and the Roussillon.

Head winemaker, Gavin Monery, who has been making wine since 2000 in his native Western Australia, and made wine at top wineries, including Cullen Wines, Moss Wood and Jean-Louis Chave, will source wines from carefully selected growers along with Mark Andrew, Roberson Wine's senior wine buyer.

"This crazy idea was five years in the making and then it started to snowball. We saw it being implemented in other global cities, like New York and San Francisco. With so many talented people creating world-class craft beers and spirits in London we thought it was a great time to do the same with wine," said Monery.

"We want to offer the public more than the generic tasting experience of sitting in a garden at a country estate trying some wine. We want the public to come in and have a tactile experience, see the production facilities and even help in the winemaking process.  We want it to be engaging and educational, as well as be an opportaunity to share our wines. We want to break the barrier and involve people as much as we can - and we want to do all this in the centre of London," said Monery.

The 300 sq m facility is housed in a former gin distillery, and is currently being installed with winemaking equipment including a press, barrels and tanks. Its first grapes are set to arrive in the next few weeks.  The inaugural harvest will be around 17,000 bottles with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes sourced from Languedoc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc grapes sourced from Bordeaux and Chardonnay and Syrah sourced grapes from Roussillon. The harvest is set to begin in mid-August and wines will begin to go on sale in mid-2014.

The grapes will be hand harvested, packed in small crates with perforated sides to prevent crushing, and moved in refrigerated trucks to central London; all under 36 hours to insure the fruit is fresh.

Gavin Monery, Head Winemaker at London Cru

Monery added: "With so many talented people creating world-class craft beers and spirits in London we thought it was a great time to do the same with wine, and share the experience of making it with people who want a hands-on, informative and entertaining experience.

"We realise that this is going to be a challenge, but we have all of the tools, skills and experience to make top quality wines in an urban environment. We also have the freedom to create the styles we want without the rules that apply to so many wine regions."

The public will be able to visit the winery starting in November for educational tastings and the chance to see how the wine is made, including possible barrel tastings.  The space will also be available to host events.  London Cru hopes to involve its growers and producers as much as it can in the development process.

"Their story is very much a part of our story.  We want to show the link between the vineyards and our wines," said Monery.  The limited first editions will also be available for tasting once they have been matured appropriately. The public will not only have the opportunity to particpate if they want in the winemaking process, but also produce their own privately labeled wine as well.

* You can follow developments at the London Cru winery, at or on Twitter at @LDNCRU.uu