Humble Grape, the wine bar and shop from James Dawson is to open a second site in May. Following the success of the Battersea opening last year, Humble Grape is set to bring its innovative concept to a 3,600 square foot space in St Bride’s Passage, just off Fleet Street.
The site, formerly The Press House Wine Bar, once a famous drinking den for journalists is tucked away down a cobbled street and hidden in the vaults of the magnificent St Bride’s Church. Unoccupied for several years, it will be revived to comprise a 200 seat wine bar, shop, events space, private dining room and wine cellar.
Humble Grape directly imports handcrafted wine from small, sustainable, independent vineyards worldwide, avoiding the industry-standard markups from agents, importers or distributers. Here, as with Battersea, customers will be invited to enjoy wine on their terms, whether seated in the bar, attending a tasting or winemaker dinner, or buying bottles to take away.
The wine list will feature around 30 wines available by the glass or carafe and over 200 wines available by the bottle to drink in or take away. Highlights include Blackwater Underdog, Chenin Blanc, MMXIV 2014, Stellenbosch, from winemaker Francois Haasbroek. He named it Underdog, because for two years he crafted the wine alongside his job as Winemaker at Waterford Wines, crushing his own grapes into the small hours of the morning at harvest time.
From Panzano, Chianti are the Vecchie Terre Montefili wines – the very first region in its entirety to adopt biodynamic farming, where the producers are constantly trying to outwit the sneaky wild pigs that snaffle the grapes.
Head Chef Anna Allan has devised wine-friendly ‘Humble Plates’. Like the wines, the ingredients will be sourced from independent suppliers, whose produce can be traced straight back to the farm.
Dishes include Galician octopus with chargrilled leeks & triple cooked new potatoes; roast bone marrow with dipping soldiers; and Lamb Ribollita stew.
Dawson is working with acclaimed architect Jean Dumas of Trellik Design Studios. Aged woods, cork, concrete and Portuguese tiles will complement the stunning stone arches, which are thought to be the original design of Sir Christopher Wren. The colour palette will be a mixture of natural ambers and smoky greys with rich and lively undertones. The bar will be crafted from old Champagne riddling racks and a central teal leather banquette will be centred beneath dramatic industrial lighting. Towards the back of the venue is the cavernous events space which will feature a striking glass-fronted wine cellar behind the arches, and an 18 seater private dinning room.
James comments: “I started Humble Grape in 2009 with a handful of wines that I’d discovered on my travels. I ran wine tastings for my friends and family and delivered cases on the back of my motorbike. Now we import over two-hundred wines, and have a loyal following. Many of my customers invested in our crowdfunding raise on Seedrs enabling me to launch the first Humble Grape wine bar and shop in Battersea, the mission being to make great quality wines accessible for all. The bar was so well received, we’re now in the position to bring the concept to Central London.