Lady of the Grapes launches in London

An independent wine shop and bar that champions women in the wine industry is set to open in Covent Garden, central London, later this month. 

Lady of the Grapes, which is being set up by Carole Bryon, will showcase wines made predominantly by female winemakers and the wines will also be organic, biodynamic or natural. Bryon previously ran Shoreditch’s The Grocery Wine Vault shop, which specialises in organic and natural produce. 

She told DRN: “All the wines on the list will be available to drink in or take home (at a retail price), and we are starting with a choice of 80. I plan to rotate these, particularly for the wines by the glass, and I am also aiming to increase the number on the list. 

“Customers can also take home food from our charcuterie and French food such as cassoulet or terrines.”

The shop is 40sq m and wine dominates one full wall. It will be small and intimate, said Bryon, and while the food element will have a predominately French bias, the wines will be sourced from all over the world. The business will also stock some beers and spirits. 

“The majority of the wines will be made by female winemakers, but in some cases it might be that a women owns the vineyard. Basically I want the women to be really involved in the wine process before I stock the wine. 

“For the business, I want to be able to tell the stories of these women and their involvement in the wine, so all our staff will be trained to do this, and they also all have at least WSET Level 2.  

“I worked in advertising for eight years and then I moved into the wine industry and I felt like it was often men asking for recommendations and that they wanted to talk to the male staff for advice. It was really frustrating for me. 

“There are more and more women in the industry, from the vineyard to sommelier, and I am now doing the WSET Diploma and more than half of the class are female. 

“The world is changing but it is still very male dominated and I wanted to give more visibility to women.”

Bryon also wants the business to focus on organic and natural wines, because these are the wines she likes to drink herself, although she admitted: “I have given myself a lot of boxes to tick when seeking these wines. 

“But these wines are good quality-wise and it is increasingly important for the customer to select organic or natural.” 

The store will also host wine tasting events and informal masterclasses held by the producers and winemakers. A website and ecommerce arm will be developed later in the year, allowing local customers to order wine and food via Deliveroo. 

Lady of the Grapes will also offer an organic food menu for its eat-in customers, and this has been designed around the wine by chef and restaurateur Victor Garvey, owner of the Soho-based Catalan restaurant Rambla, and cheese and wine restaurant Sibarita in Covent Garden. 

Support for the business is also being sought by a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of injecting any funds raised into marketing.

Bryon told DRN she would like to open a second store in the next three or four years, and she would be looking to find a bigger unit when she expands the business. 

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