RENEGADE URBAN WINERY
London has been the centre of wine trade and wine drinking for a long time. So why not winemaking? To many, this may seem like a mad idea, but not to the Renegade team. One of the boldest projects of English winemaking, this urban winery is making stunningly characterful wines and breaking the rules, one bottle at a time.
There is a well-known saying that great wines are made in the vineyard. This is certainly true in the sense that to make a high quality wine you need ripe and healthy grapes. However, does it mean that the winery needs to be built next to the vineyard? Well, not any more and the story of Renegade wine proves this. Historically, grapes could not travel far because of the lack of refrigerated transport. Nowadays, this has changed. For example, bringing fresh grapes from Bordeaux to London at 2℃ does not harm them one bit. After all, it is only several hours drive.
Founder of Renegade winery, Warwick Smith had a successful career in the asset management business. However, in 2016 he left his job to pursue his passion for wine. Inspired by the American and Asian urban wineries, Warwick founded Renegade, an urban winery in the heart of London.
“When we started making wine in 2016 we were copycat winemakers,” Warwick says. “We asked the growers how we should make wine with their grapes, and we did what they said. This was a mistake. We shouldn’t be copying other styles. London should be leading the charge on new wine styles, winemaking approaches and using both ancient and modern techniques.“
From Vines To Wines
As an urban winery, Renegade has the luxury to use only the best grapes. If you make wine from your own fruit, you have to make it every year, no matter how good or bad that year has been. On the contrary, Renegade sources the highest quality grapes from the top artisanal growers – just like a chef who can select seasonal vegetables from the best farmers.
Around 50% of grapes used for Renegade wine come from the UK and the other half – from France, Spain, Germany, Italy, Portugal and other European countries. As such, not all of the Renegade wines can be called “English”. Nevertheless, each bottle is certainly London-inspired and London-made.
Renegade wine range changes year on year and their releases are rarely repeated. From Pet-Nats to traditional method sparkling, from young fruit forward expressions to serious oak-aged examples, from white to red to orange – each year the selection is truly impressive. At the same time, the production remains small, with only around 28,000 bottles released per year.
The bottles’ appearance is quite unique. Each Renegade wine label shows the eyes of a different person who lives in the UK. These people are students, plumbers, researchers, the unemployed, the retired, newspaper editors, receptionists, teachers and HR executives. They are aged between 19 and 70+. They are white, black, Asian and mixed race. In a word, they are very different, and they each form a key part of the rich tapestry that makes the UK special.
Anyone can apply to be on the Renegade wine labels.