“The wine scene in Edinburgh is historically very stuffy,” says Graeme Sutherland, 41, the managing director of wine bars Good Brothers and Little Rascals. “It’s traditional and old school. However, the last decade has seen an explosion of young people getting into wine and new companies releasing interesting avant-garde wines. The scene at the moment is really vibrant and going places, it’s fantastically forward-looking”.
In order to satisfy this new market, Graeme will be launching his new venue, WineKraft, at 6 Brandon Terrace, Canonmills, on April 26.
It’s in the former premises of Wooden Toys Edinburgh, which may look quite bijoux from the front, but is 1800 square foot over two levels.
They’ll sell craft wine - organic, biodynamic and in small batches - but also fruit, vegetables and deli items, like charcuterie, olives and IJ Mellis cheese, with the ambience of an old-fashioned grocer.
Throughout the pandemic, the team has diversified and extended their product line so they could run their delivery, events and subscription business, Good Brothers to Go. Their Stockbridge venue has become too small for all their new suppliers, hence the expansion, which Graeme also hopes will help guarantee job security for his team.
“The level of support we’ve had from the government has been great, but we are not going to get this continued level if lockdown happens again”, he says. “It’s ensuring that my businesses have longevity and we can change direction very quickly. I want to make sure that my staff don’t ever face the dread that we may close down”.
At WineKraft, customers will be allowed to sample wines, linger and enjoy the experience, with a vibe that Graeme describes as “homely, and like an extension of my living room”. Although most of us have become accustomed to on-line shopping over the last year, that’s only served to make us pine for browsing real produce in an appealing setting.
“My new venue is a commitment to the high street, which has had an absolute beating”, says Graeme, who grew up in Canonmills. “We wanted to provide something that was different to the cafes that are already in the area. I think you’re going to see a demand for the retail experience again, and we want to create a space where people can get a personal consultation. There will be those who won’t come out and shop again, but those who do will be looking for something different”.
They’ll be starting slow, with the wine and deli area at the front of the shop opening first. By early 2022, they hope to have fully expanded their offering.
The space will eventually be divided into four separate areas. The rear - south-facing, so flooded with natural light - will feature a tasting room, where there will be wine sampling on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Downstairs, they’re going to create a bespoke hub, for their distribution service.
However, we’re most excited about the wine cave, where they will offer private tastings and events.
As Graeme says, "It’s going to be fantastic, and I look forward to sharing it”.