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Vagabond opens English wine bar South Downs at Gatwick

Published:  23 June, 2023

Coinciding with English Wine Week, Vagabond, the award-winning urban winery has opened its second outlet at Gatwick Airport, South Downs – an English wine bar in the heart of the South Terminal departure lounge.

With 40 covers total, the bar boasts the very best English wine has to offer, plus a few international counterparts for good measure.

Colin Thorne, wine buyer for Vagabond said: “I was involved in the first draft [of the wine list] back in March, and speaking to producers, they were really excited about the concept and to showcase their wines to such a large audience.

“Being based at Gatwick, we wanted to include as many of the quality wineries in the vicinity as possible, hence the name South Downs.”

One of the criticisms often labelled at English wine, still and sparkling, is its hefty price points. However, by offering these wines by the glass in the on-trade, Vagabond is hoping that consumers will be more likely to try English wine and, hopefully, return to it in the future.

“At Vagabond, we are obviously massive proponents of English wine, so to be able to offer it by the glass, in a setting that celebrates domestic produce as a whole, was a large part of why we started this venture in the first place,” added Throne.

In terms of the wine list, 13 English sparkling wines are featured, including Vagabond’s own Pet Not Rosé 2021, Rathfinny’s Classic Cuvée 2018, Ridgeview Sparkling Pinot Noir and Gusbourne’s brand new 51 Degrees North 2014, which was aged for 80 months on lees.

The list also includes eight international sparkling wines, the majority of which are from France to help “place the English wines in a wider context”, according to Thorne.

As for the English stills, the menu features five whites, two rosés, one orange and four reds, as well as a smattering of international options for those craving a bold Rioja or something more familiar, pre-flight. 

The UK theme is not exclusive to the wine list and also offers a cocktail menu developed by Max Benning, owner of Three Sheets – one of the world’s top 50 bars, featuring British vodka, gin and brandy among others.