By Rose Murray Brown MW  Published in The Scotsman 9 July 2022


Our vision of a typical winery is usually surrounded by vineyards in a rolling countryside setting, but this is not always the case. 

Red hook winery new yorkUrban wineries based in the heart of big cities are now all the rage with no vineyards in sight.  Their owners can funnel resources into buying grapes from growers in neighbouring wine regions and making the best wines possible, close to the market they sell to – which offers the customer an opportunity to experience wine in an entirely new concept. 

For the wine tourist an urban winery offers a great chance to visit a working winery whilst on a city break to Cape Town, Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Madrid, Portland, Hong Kong, Santiago, London - and even Cambridge.  Check out my pick of the urban wineries with a difference:

Cape Town, South Africa: DORRANCE www.dorrancewines.com
Frenchman Christophe Durand (pictured below) moved to the Cape in 1995 to sell French oak barrels to local wineries, but a few years later started winemaking.  In 2014, with his South African-born wife Sabrina, he opened the first urban winery in South Africa, in Cape Town’s iconic Heritage Square - and buys in Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Syrah and Cinsault from Swartland, Elgin and Franschhoek.  His latest project is creating a French bistro, Bouchon, within his cellar. 

Christophe Durand Dorrance winery Cape Town South Africa

New York, US: RED HOOK www.redhookwinery.com
Mark Snyder worked in the music business with legends Billy Joel and Pete Frampton, before turning to wine.  He opened Brooklyn-based Red Hook winery on Pier 41 in 2008, buying in Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc from Long Island’s North Fork and the Finger Lakes region.  His waterfront winery, based in an old warehouse, offers tastings looking across the bay to the Statue of Liberty (pictured above and below).  In 2012 when Hurricane Sandy blew through the Big Apple, it damaged Snyder’s warehouse and he lost a lot of his older vintages, but he has bounced back and Red Hook winery bar is now a hub of vibe and activity.

Red Hook winery New York

London, UK: BLACKBOOK www.blackbookwinery.com
There are four urban wineries in London including London Cru, Renegade, Vagabond and my favourite Blackbook.  American-born Sergio Verrillo and his Scottish wife Lynsey Ipictured below) set up Blackbook winery in an old Network Rail arch in Battersea, because they loved cities and wanted to be near an engaged customer base.  Verrillo spends his days with growers in East Anglia, Essex and Oxfordshire and at harvest trucks grapes into the city.  His passion is Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but he also works with Bacchus and Seyval Blanc.

Blackbook urban winery London

Portland, US: HIP CHICKS DO WINE www.hipchicksdowine.com
One of a dozen urban wineries in downtown Portland - Amaterra is the newest urban winery there, whilst Hip Chicks Do Wine is the oldest.  Established in 2001 by two self-taught winemakers Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely who first made wine in their apartment before setting up in a Portland industrial estate (pictured below).  They chose a fun catchy name as they thought everyone in Portland was taking wine too seriously and work with twelve varietals including Tempranillo, Viognier and Pinot Gris.

Hip Chicks Do Wine Urban winery Portland Oregon

Napa, US: ST CLAIR BROWN www.stclairbrown.com
This Californian urban winery and nano-brewery is run by winemaker Elaine St Clair and Laina Brown (pictured below) who met in the wine industry 20 years ago.  They make ten wines from their estate vineyards in Coombsville, just five miles from downtown Napa.  At the winery they have created a 4500 square foot culinary garden in a greenhouse with a small organic food menu from the garden.  Wine and beer tastings are held surrounded by raised beds and fruit trees – an unusual urban experience.

St Clair Brown Napa California urban winery

Cambridge, UK:  GUTTER & STARS www.gutterandstars.co.uk
A new winery set up in 2020 in a Grade 2-listed windmill in the heart of Cambridge is the latest addition to the urban winery scene – and a first for this city.  Wine journalist-turned winemaker Chris Wilson focuses on small-batch English wines at Chesterton Mill with Bacchus, Ortega, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Essex, East Anglia and Oxfordshire made with a hands-off approach, bottled with slick labels and catchy wine names.

Gutter & Stars

Paris, France:  LES VIGNERONS PARISIENS www.lesvignerons.paris
The first (and only) urban winery in Paris was set up in 2015 by Matthieu Bosser with winemaker Emmanuel Gagnepain and biodynamic viticultural consultant Frederic Duseigneur - in the 3rd Arrondisment of the city.  They focus on Rhone grapes: Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc for whites, Grenache and Syrah for reds - all organic and biodynamic – with grapes sourced from four different growers in the communes of Visan and Sabran in the southern Rhone.  Look out for Lutece (Viognier/Marsanne/Roussanne) white, Turbigo (Cinsault) and Hausmann (Syrah).

Les Vignerons Parisiens urban winery in Paris


Urban winery star buys:



Dorrance Rouge 2020 Top SelectionDORRANCE ROUGE 2020
£12.99 Top Selection; 9 Elms Wines
Beautifully crafted 100% Cinsault from Swartland grapes; lifted red fruit aromas from whole bunch fermentation with succulent bright juicy fruits and gentle oak made in a non-interventionist style. 


£24 The Wine Society
Sweet leesy aromas, quite toasty, high acidity with Granny Smith apple and ginger notes – made from Essex-grown grapes fermented in Burgundy barrels for 10 months


Join Rose’s Alternative Australia & New Zealand tasting in St Andrews on Friday 7 Oct www.rosemurraybrown.com