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Humble Grape’s vision for expansion

Published:  17 April, 2024

As the UK’s hospitality sector grapples with a wave of closures, Humble Grape’s Fleet Street bar played host to its spring portfolio tasting, offering a glimpse into the brand’s ambitious plans for growth and expansion.

Humble Grape, the London wine bar chain and shop was founded in 2009 with a commitment to curating exceptional wines from small, independent producers around the world. Since then it has opened six bars across the capital and future expansion looms large for the business.

“Even though times are tough for the hospitality industry we aren’t averse to the idea of growing, we’ve got six venues at the moment and we’ve built a loyal following, so it’s a nice base to start thinking, maybe, in 2025, it’s time for expansion,” Carlos Santos, DipWSET, head of wine at Humble Grape told Harpers.

The news comes shortly after wine retailer Majestic announced its acquisition of the self-pour wine bar Vagabond Wines, which, like Humble Grape, targets a younger demographic interested in esoteric wines. Shortly after the acquisition, Majestic revealed plans to open more Vagabond bars in the future.

Santos continued: “Our concept of expansion extends beyond numbers. We’re exploring avenues to broaden our presence in hospitality, diversify our wine portfolio and fortify partnerships in B2B.”

In the context of the hospitality sector in general, new openings were reduced for the third year in a row in 2023 and more than 6,000 venues closed last year, bringing the total number since the pandemic to 23,000, according to CGA.

In a landscape where margins reign supreme, Humble Grape has been helped by the fact that it works directly with the majority of its wine producers, an arrangement which is mutually beneficial for both parties. 

“Direct collaboration with the vineyards not only reduces costs but also allows us to strategise effectively, especially amidst price hikes for essentials like bottles and packaging,” Santos added.

This has allowed Humble Grape to remain steadfast in its commitment to offering its customers value without compromise. Santos said: “Accurate price positioning is paramount. While our wines may lean towards the premium end, delivering the best value to our customers remains our priority.”

Looking forward, Santos expressed eagerness about introducing new producers and products in the autumn. “We're particularly drawn to the burgeoning wine scenes in Eastern Europe and the dynamic developments unfolding in South Africa,” he added, underscoring the brand’s desire for expansion.

With an unwavering focus on quality, sustainability, and customer satisfaction, Humble Grape stands poised to embark on an exciting journey of growth and expansion, reaffirming its status as a wine brand on the rise in the capital and beyond. 

Producer highlights:

Allimant-Laugner: A family winery spanning 12 generations in Northern Alsace, cultivating 12ha and crafting 15 unique wines. The vegan range ferments in stainless steel with natural yeast, prioritising sustainability.

Bartinney: Situated at 550m above sea level, Bartinney’s eco-friendly vineyards require manual labour. Owner Rose Jordaan describes the wines as a “true reflection of mountain terroir”.

Vinyes Occults: Founded in 2007 as a garage winery in Mendoza, Vinyes Occults sold out its entire 400-litre production within two months, reflecting the rapid success and demand.

Villa Melnik: Family-owned winery in southwest Bulgaria specialising in indigenous grape varieties with a winemaking heritage that spans 3000 years when the land was populated by the Thracians.