The award-winning London wine bar Artisan & Vine, champion of English wine producers, has closed down.
O’Mara: ‘she’ll be back’
In its four-year life Artisan & Vine, a small but vibrant operation in the residential area of Battersea, south of the River Thames, won numerous plaudits from the UK wine and food press, in particular coming a close second as Innovative Merchant of the Year in the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Guy Woodward, editor of Decanter magazine, said the the closure was ‘a real shame’.
‘Artisan & Vine was more than just a wine shop – more than just a wine bar, even. But it’s an instructive reminder that riding the wave of the latest trend – in this case ‘natural’ and English wines – doesn’t always lead to long-term success.’
‘These areas of the market are still niche sectors for consumers, however much the wine trade loves them,’ he added.
Bob Lindo of renowned Cornish wine producer Camel Valley said owner Kathryn O’Mara ‘is still a superstar and she’ll be back.’
Specialising in organic and natural wines and with a comprehensive English wine list, the restaurant served only local and natural foods as well as attracting winemakers such as Bonny Doon’s Randall Grahm to run tastings.
It was her dedication to authentic produce that ‘cost her the business’, O’Mara (pictured) said.
‘As the prospect of recession came closer, it became clear that success on our neighbourhood street would require moving away from my vision of local and natural wines and food. Artisan wines and food simply couldn’t compete on cost with their mass produced and chemically manipulated counterparts.’
While trends towards drinking at home helped increase off-premise sales, particularly in the last six months, O’Mara said, high rents and overheads demanded a higher ratio of on-premise sales.
‘It became evident that a suburban location in this economic climate was not right for our concept.
‘Sticking to my principles on natural and local wines and food may have been what cost me my business, but changing to a more generic option would have cost us Artisan & Vine. It would have undermined everything that the team and I had worked for over the past four years.’
Finally, paying tribute to ‘the most adventurous and enthusiastic customers and staff a wine bar could ever hope for’, she said, ‘We leave Artisan & Vine proud in the knowledge that so many people enjoyed so many occasions – special and every day – within our humble walls.’
Written by Adam Lechmere