Starting as a little Fulham shop in 2010, Vagabond has now expanded its ‘urban-winery’ concept to various London locations. Innovatively involving its customers in the winemaking process, this independent merchant offers a fresh take on the city’s wine-bar scene. Vagabond’s focus on promoting British grapes, as well as organising tasting and blending sessions reflect the venue’s values: great wine without the fuss.
What is the story behind your name and what do you think it says about your brand?
The name Vagabond derives from our values and what we do. Firstly, we explore and discover the world of wine on our own terms. We cover the globe to select the very best of wine out there, as well as flying the flag for independent producers and championing the underdog.
Our wine list is a living, breathing entity which changes every week, meaning there is always something exciting to discover in our stores! We also have a sister brewery called Boxcar, so the image of the Vagabond travelling via a boxcar was a pretty appropriate one.
What do you look for in a potential employee?
Passion, commitment, flair and oodles of personality. We are all about finding the right people to fit into our teams culturally and we pledge to provide them with the skills required.
Staff retention is a big problem in the industry, what do you do to encourage your staff to stay?
We strive to make them feel part of our Vaga-family by treating everyone with respect!
How did you end up working for vagabond and have you always been interested in wine?
I spent my university years in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Fortunately for me, my flatmate’s grandfather owned a winery close by. As a poor student, I consequently managed to familiarise myself with fabulous wine without forking out the big bucks. This experience sparked my interest, to the extent that I took up a part-time role at a winery Restaurant. Inevitably, this started my career in hospitality which eventually led me to London and then the Vagabond.
What new trends in the wine industry seem exciting to you?
Right now, we are most excited about being at the forefront of English winemaking. Our Urban Winery and Kitchen is London’s only fully-operational winery, where we both make wine and serve guests. Customers are immersed in the winemaking experience while enjoying our 100+ wines by the glass offering and seasonal dishes straight from the kitchen. The Vagabond takes the wine experience full circle, from its making to its tasting, which is an exciting process to be part of.
Red, White or Rosé?
Do I have to make a choice? However, I do love a chilled glass of rosé on a warm sunny day!
How are the next 12 months looking like for Vagabond?
We are as busy as ever and will be opening more wine bars and shops over the next 12 months. We have just opened Vagabond number 6 in Paddington this month, will be opening Canary Wharf shortly, followed by 1-3 more sites within the year. We are also looking forward to bringing our first all-day dining offering to London in the new locations.
We will continue to make remarkable English wines in our Urban Winery, as well as collaborating with winemakers abroad. We keep striving to create new technological advances for enthusiastic wine lovers, such as with our Vagabond App.