Working a vintage, my first week on the job at London Cru

Sep 15, 13 Working a vintage, my first week on the job at London Cru

Phew! I am knackered. I’ve just finished my first week at my new job and I’m exhausted. When I signed up as Event Coordinator for the first urban winery in London, London Cru (opening to the public early Nov. 2013), they vaguely mentioned something about helping out with the vintage in the winery. I, of course, jumped on that and said I’d be happy to help out. Little did I know that I would get to be a fully pledged and integrated member of the team (read: cellar rat).

I was the only one wearing wellies that day, soooo....

I was the only one wearing wellies that day, soooo….

I am getting such a kick from spending all day in the winery and learning so much. Gavin Monery, the winemaker, is more than happy to answer all my questions and genuinely wants to share his passion for the vine.  Lots of winemakers started out as cellar rats and although I may be late coming to the game, there’s still hope for me yet.

Gavin and the destemmer

Gavin and the destemmer

the forklift and press

the forklift and press

The concept behind the winery is to bring the wine making experience to Londoners. It’s not very easy to gain access to a winery during vintage time but at London Cru, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the wine making experience with their winemaker. As a wine lover living in London, I’d be thrilled if I was able to ruck up to Zone 2 (Earls Court) and make wine in a real, fully equipped winery. Well, soon you will be able to do just that. The winery is going to be open year round for events, dinners, tastings, masterclasses and even Christmas parties as well as other such happenings. At the moment though, we’re concentrating on making our wine which should be available next year.

chardonnay before going into the press...

chardonnay before going into the press…

Anyway, the grapes arrived on my second day in the job and I was thrown in the winery as the first load of 4 tonnes of chardonnay from Ch. Corneilla in the Roussillon arrived. Sorting, pressing, and putting the must into tanks used up most of the day and at the end, we had to leave the winery looking spotless. Let me tell you, at 10pm at night, I was just hoping we’d get done in time for me to catch the last Tube. That is one big advantage to an urban winery, you can catch the Tube home!

...and after the press - chardonnay 'cake'

…and after the press – chardonnay ‘cake’

We also had 4 tonnes of syrah come in from Roussillon later that week. The syrah was a bit less taxing because we only had to sort and destem it before it went into the tanks, pressing will come later. It was however, still a long day. One thing I never realized in all my press trips is how much time it takes to clean a winery and all the equipment used, probably because by the time the winery staff get around to cleaning, we are knee deep in foie gras at dinner. London Cru’s winery is small but still, it does take hours to clean properly.

getting the tanks clean for the syrah

getting the tanks clean for the syrah

By the end of the week, the chardonnay was tucked away in it’s oak barrels and the fermentation was getting going. As for the syrah, it’s sitting in the stainless steel tanks, awaiting fermentation to start….stay tuned for continuing updates….


shoes and wellies parking only

shoes and wellies parking only



  1. Hi Denise!

    Congrats on your new job at the wine cellar. Sounds totally cool and interesting but a TON of work. Paul and I are still in Seoul. We just got back from AF. So glad to be back in civilization again. I love your blog and recommended it while I was away to several colleagues who are into wine. I also visited a really cool wine bar in NYC called Casellula’s. Love it for the fourth time. Glad all appears well with you. Just wanted to write to say hi! Best Always, Heidi

    • Hi Heidi,
      Great to hear from you! The job is a lot of work but I’m really enjoying myself and learning loads. Great to hear you’re still travelling around and living in Seoul. Hope you’re well and keep in touch! You can always email me

  2. Denise, great to see you treading grapes in England! Keep the passion going and one day you can try to make a fortified wine in the heart of the country that loves Port!

  3. How cool!

    That’s a great way to learn about wine making. You should throw that one open to the public as a tour, learn how wine is made right in the capital or bring all the wseters down for the day.

    Looks like you’re having fun 🙂

    • That’s the idea! Hopefully next year we’ll have sessions where the paying public can come and participate in the vintage 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.