Love vino? Get down to Once Upon a Vine, a new shop, bar and tasting room where you can get amazing wine and charcuterie.
All good fairytales start with ‘Once upon a time…’, and for owner Simon Cocks, Once Upon a Vine is the happy ending. After years working for others as a wine expert, he’s now flying solo to give Horsforth its first dedicated wine shop and tasting room. You can nip in for a glass of red, white or rose, grab a bottle to take home or pair your drink with their charcuterie offering.
It’s been a long time coming for Simon. He started his career with Majestic Wine in 2006, managing stores around the country, before moving to Friends of Ham to develop their celebrated wine offering. It was there that he realised he wanted to set up on his own, and having spent plenty of time doing his research, including trips to vineyards in France and Spain with his wife and Yorkshire Wine School owner Laura Kent, he’s opened up his dream venue.
Once Upon a Vine is right in the heart of Horsforth on Town Street and it’s something Simon felt the suburb really needed, “Whilst we live in the city centre, a few friends of ours live in Horsforth and had been lamenting the lack of good wine options, be it a place to drink or a place to buy to take away. Once I’d seen the unit, I realised it was a perfect fit. When I put a poster in the window explaining my license application, interest on the Horsforth Community Facebook Group went crazy. That gave me a real confidence that the town wanted my business as much as I wanted theirs.”
Once Upon a Vine is a small, but perfectly formed shop-cum-bar, lovingly fitted out by Simon’s recently retired father. The floor-to-ceiling shelves are made out of reclaimed scaffold boards and filled to the brim with bottles, while the long communal table in the centre of the shop uses the same wood and metal piping. The other eye-catching feature is the cork curtain, which was made using old wine corks Simon collected over the years.
It’s primarily a shop. You can buy hand-picked bottles of wine from all over the world, and they have a wide mix, with prices ranging from £8 a bottle to £150. The bulk of their collection sits between £12 to £18 though, so it’s not too extravagant. You can get everything from an Argentinean Malbec to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Spanish Rioja and even something a little different like a Hungarian Hárslevelű. Have you fallen into the craze for natural wines? They’ve cherry-picked a selection of the best after trying more than 100.
Want to stay for a few drinks? They have plenty of options for you to choose from by the glass. The selection changes regularly – one day you might get Paulett’s Polish Riesling and another the Front Row Shiraz. Simon wants to help people widen their horizons and introduce them to new styles from around the world, whether it’s from Switzerland, Israel or just France. If you want to drink one of their bottles in, they have an £8 per bottle corkage fee from Tuesday to Saturday, but on Sundays it’s the same price as if you were taking it away.
Simon’s a wine expert, and he’s always on hand to give you a recommendation. In fact, he gave us two top tips, “One of our best selling wines so far has been Biscardi Neropasso, a delicious red from Northern Italy. Some of the grapes are dried before fermentation and the result is a lovely raisiny character in the finished wine – some have described it as a baby Amarone. My other recommendation would be the Weissburgunder Judith Beck from Austria. I met Judith in London last year and was blown away by her passion for Biodynamics. All of her vineyards are farmed biodynamically and there is minimal intervention in the winery. Sometimes this can lead to wines being quite ‘funky’, but hers are incredibly fresh and pure.”
Not feeling the plonk? They have alternatives. Craft beer aficionados are covered – you can try out a range of local beers from the likes of North Brewing Co, Magic Rock and Horsforth Brewery, all of which are kept in a chilled fridge. They also highlight a particular local gin every month, the first of which is Sing Gin from Harrogate.
You won’t go hungry either – they have the perfect accompaniments for your visit. There are small bar snacks like Gordal olives or you can put together your own charcuterie board. They do meats like Iberico chorizo, Italian coppa and Tuscan finocchiona, alongside cheese like Baron Bigod, Beenleigh Blue and Hafod Cheddar – and if you like what you taste, all of their cheeses are available in 150 gram portions to takeaway too.
They’re going to host a busy programme of tasting events on Sunday afternoons, as well as Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. You can pop in to see experts from wineries like Franck Massard talk you through a range, or book the place out for a special private tasting.
Whether you’re local or not, if you love wine, a trip to Once Upon a Vine is in order. Who knows, you might just find your next favourite bottle.
Once Upon a Vine, 21 Town Street, Horsforth, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS18 5LJ. It’s open 11pm to 9pm Tuesday to Saturday and 12pm to 5pm on Sunday.Cover image © Copyright Leeds-List 2018 by Alia Drewery