A Viti-"Not So" Culturist's foray into the growing and making of wine and a family in the city.
Sunday October 17th 2021

Varietals

Vinopolis

Vinopolis

When I read about Vinopolis on a previous trip to Enlgand, I made sure I included it in my itinerary on a recent business trip to the UK. England being more famous for pints than vino I really did not have any idea what to expect.  Reviews of Vinopolis were for the most part positive and being both a novice and not at all into the pretentious vibe of wine I expected a nice relaxing way to spend a day in London, a welcome alternative to the mayhem that is the tube station and London streets, was in store.  Vinopolis is located in the London Bridge area, next to Borough Market, my absolute favorite part of London. 
 
After grabbing a proper coffee at Monmouth (the best coffee I’ve had in England), I spent a couple hours prior to my appointment wandering the market taking in all the smells, free samples, and amazing offerings that are Borough Market.  With so much good stuff to peruse, I was able to tolerate the mass of bodies that flow through the stalls and stands.  Everything I tried here was excellent and I discovered many fish, fruits and vegetables I never knew existed.  Anyone that is a foody it likely aware of this area of London but if not and you have overdosed on museums, don’t miss it!
 
As my tour time approached, I left Borough Market to find Vinopolis…soon I saw a sign for it, then a doorway except this was not the entrance so I

kept going. Ah, another sign and door ahead…nope, a service entrance.  Onward I plodded repeating this down the entire block, around the corner and up the other side until finally I found the main entrance for the tour.  The place was huge, covering most if not all of the long block.

Vinopolis Wine Tour
Upon entering there is a reception desk, I had arrived early so the very friendly girl behind the desk took my coat and pack, then took me for a quick tour of the facility.  Unfortunately I only had my phone for a camera on this trip so that explains the poor quality of the pictures.

There are several levels of tours you can take.  I opted for the Vineyard tour which involved primarily wine tastings and a bombay sapphire topper.  If you are truly adventurous you could do the Spirit of Vinopolis tour which adds rum, whiskey, beer and absinthe, I wanted to remember my day so stuck with the vineyard tour.  The tour itself was really a brief introduction to the basics of wine tasting.  While you are provided a glass of white wine and a tasting book, if you have had an exposure to the basics when tasting previously you will likely not learn anything new.  Considering I can never really pick out specific flavors of wines such as musty cellar, blackberry verses blueberry, etc. I was hoping for more educational value.  Once the talk is given you are free to roam on your own through the remainder of Vinopolis for your tastings.  The first room is the Champagne tasting room…for £5 you can get 3 tastings.  It is this room that I met a group from Essex who adopted me for the remainder of the evening.  They were a really down to earth fun group to chat with and the reason why I ended up taking very few pictures.

After this is the wine room which is seperated into Old World, New World and Premium.  There is a good assortment of wine and some excellent wines available to taste, at least for my novice palate.  With the tour you get 5 regular tastings and 2 premium, you can of course buy any of the wines tasted or just buy a glass of the ones you like.  As you wander the room there are all sorts of displays and models that show various vineyards and winemaking methods from the various countries.  There were also some multimedia displays such as the video moped tour pictured here.

Italian Moped Tour
 

After this room, you can always continue on to the various other rooms, whiskey, rum, absinthe, bombay, beer, etc.  I am a bit hazy about the end, I gave my rum away (not sure why I got those tickets).  All in all it was a very pleasant experience made even better by the lot from Essex.  They invited me to a meal of whelks (rubbery snails) and white bait (lightly battered whole anchiovy like fish) and cider (the alcoholic kind).

In the end the tour itself was probably not worth the money for me having had some basic understanding of tasting and wine already…however the neighborhood, facility itself and the variety of wine to taste is well worth the trip.

 
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