A typical day for me is busy. Monday and Tuesday I am at our Fleet Street site where I meet the GMs and talk to the wine managers about what is going on in their bar, how the weekend performed, what worked and what isn’t working. Wednesday I spend in our Liverpool Street bar. Thursday I am in Islington, then Friday morning I go to Battersea. We hold monthly meetings where we brainstorm ideas and talk about potential events. Two months ago we came up with the idea to run a wine appreciation master class. You have to buy a £10 voucher to spend in Humble Grape but with that you get a free wine tasting which is about 45 to 60 minutes long; you get to try four different grapes and it teaches the basics about wine. We do this from all our sites and we’ve found it’s been really popular. It gets people through the door and gets them familiar with the Humble Grape concept, and hopefully they will return.
My favourite part of the job is the people: spending time with my customers and also spending time in the vineyards, meeting the makers, walking around the vineyards, tasting the wine and learning about the grape. If I could spend two or three months a year travelling to the winelands, I would. Unfortunately, I’ve got all the rest of the business to do – from the marketing to the accounting and the tax – so that would not be a great idea. My biggest challenge at the moment is the market. It’s in a really weird place because of the political climate: people are spending less and going out less, so that is always going to impact trading. It is also always challenging finding really great people to hire. Getting the best people is always good for business, but it is not always easy.
Growth plans for Humble Grape are on pause until the end of next year, when we know what the political climate will look like. The economy needs to improve first, but hopefully in 2021 we will open two more sites, potentially around London Bridge and Kings Cross.
A Cabernet Franc from a producer in South Africa called Rainbow’s End. You’ll find the same grape in Saint-Émilion in France and these guys have been making the best Cab Franc in South Africa for a long time.
Rainbow’s End Cabernet Franc, 2017
It’s got to be this one from one of our Slovenian winemakers. This Gönc is a winning white and it’s one of the most exciting wineries in Europe at the moment.
Gönc Winery Yellow Muscat, 2018
An elegant, pale and fruity rosé made from vines planted on clay and limestone slopes.
Domaine des Aspras Les Trois Frères Rosé, 2018
Made with the Champagne method but in Burgundy, this Crémant is made exclusively from Chardonnay. Floral and fresh, only 1,000 bottles are made each year.
Domaine André Bonhomme Crémant de Bourgogne Brut, 2016
Another amazing bottle from winemaking maestro Peter Gönc. This is an easy-drinking red from Slovenia.
Gönc Winery Blaufränkisch, 2017
This Pinot Noir has sweet, woody and mushroom notes because it has been delicately aged, over 17 months, in Fouquet and then Seguin Moreau Icône barrels. It is only produced in the finest years and in tiny quantities, like 600 cases.
Dutton Goldfield Freestone Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir, 2016
From The Supermarket
It would have to be this Bordeaux.
For more information, visit HumbleGrape.co.uk