Wine. We love it. But to be honest we don’t really know much about it. We might do the old sniff-and-swill when the waiter gives us a sample – but mention tannins or acidity and most of us will be lost. But that doesn’t matter here.
At East London’s first urban winery you don’t need to be a wine buff to enjoy their select range of homemade products. Stripped-back and industrial, Renegade is quintessentially east London and utterly devoid of pretention.
“Just stick your finger in there and dig it out,” Founder Warwick Smith tells me when a tiny fruit fly tries to drown itself in my Sauvignon Blanc. Warwick takes the unpretentious vibe seriously. He teamed up with uber-relaxed New Zealander Josh Hammond, who has a degree in wine making (because that’s a thing in New Zealand), and Renegade was born.
Almost invisible down a tiny alleyway, under the railway arches behind Bethnal Green station – this place is the definition of a hidden gem. Somewhere you’ll want to bring out-of-town friends to make you look cool. Huge steel cylinders filled with fermenting wine tower next to the bar, and alongside the seating benches are barrel upon barrel of different blends and hundreds of unlabelled bottles, stacked unceremoniously in cages.
The authenticity is palpable. This is the closest you’ll get in London to strolling amongst the grapes in a French vineyard. They make all the wine right there in the room. Shipping in the fruit from sunnier climates, the two of them start the process from scratch to create unique and interesting flavours. It can take months – and apparently it involves more than just romantically crushing grapes with your bare feet.
I’ve already admitted that I’m no wine critic – but the wine is fantastic. There are two blends currently available. The Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, light and really fruity. The Bacchus was my favourite though – drier than the Sauvignon, it is dangerously drinkable and a bit different to the usual thing you find on wine lists. I also had a taste of the Pinot Noir – it’s not quite ready yet, but I can’t resist a red. It had that kind of deep, velvety taste that makes you crave cheese and open fires – so by the time it’s on the menu I reckon it will be incredible.
With a great little outdoor space it’s perfect for lazy summer evenings – there’s a piano, friendly staff and if you bring a dog you get a discount. What more could you want? Get down there before it gets too popular.
Address: Arch 12, Gales Gardens, London, E2 0EJ
Tube: Bethnal Green (Central)
Price: Bottles £16 – £18