chai urbain, faire du vin en ville

Urban Winery : Making Wine in Town… Really ?

Mood post : What is Urban Winery? Is it really a good idea to vinify wine in town? Not sure… !

chain en ville, faire du vin en ville

“I’m curious what types of yeast thrive in an urban winery amid the pollution, concrete and drunk guy piss …?”


You walk down the street, a building is under renovation. A few weeks later, the plaster is still not finished, but there are vats, pipes, a counter, and two smiling guys with mustaches sell you wine vinified on site. Wine made in town … I never would have had the idea … It’s called an urban winery. The name is catchy. It grows in all cities: Bordeaux, Marseille, Paris, Lyon, Saint Étienne … A phenomenon that began in the United States in the 2000s, then in Japan, in Europe with London, Brussels and now in France.
A rather intelligent tip for city dwellers wanting to make wine without abandoning the bustle of the city, not wishing to dirty their Vans in the mud, and to offer at people a product in short circuit. As a hipster, I like the concept. The anecdote is pretty cool to tell when you open a bottle for apéritif vinified two blocks from here. But as the son of a living wine winemaker, I am rather skeptical … My determinism as a child of the vine question me on 3 aspects …:


Urban Winery : What Yeasts in Wine?

To make good wine you need good indigenous yeasts. That’s the base … Yeasts are those magical things that transform sugar into alcohol. But it is also what reveals the aroma of the wine. At the base odorless in the grape, the molecules which will give the wine aromas are manifested thanks to the yeasts which modify their structures during fermentation. Without them, no alcohol or aromas … We would be bored … God bless the yeasts!

Since Pasteur, we have known that yeasts are unicellular fungi. There is a lot on the skin of the grapes but also in the air. Basically, they are everywhere … And each place has its own yeasts.
During vinification, there are therefore mainly 3 strains of yeast : that of the vineyard and the grape, that of the cellar having developed its own yeasts over the years and vinifications, and that of the ambient air.
If this trio seems harmonious and coherent to me for a wine vinified on site with the air of the countryside, I am skeptical about the city. Knowing that not all of them are good for fermenting wine, I’m curious what types of yeast thrive in an urban winery amid the pollution, concrete and drunk guy piss …? I don’t have the answer, only a hunch …


Urban Winery : The Delivery of Grapes ?

Bringing tons of grapes back to town is a hassle … And to make good wine, you need fresh grapes, otherwise their quality will deteriorate. It is for this reason that we harvest early in the morning or even sometimes at night.
Obviously, growing poorly on concrete, an urban winery does not have vines nearby. Most therefore use refrigerated transport to transport the grapes to town. A good way to limit degradation, but which will never replace the quality of a grape vinified directly at the estate.
Urban cellars are not the only ones to face this logistical problem. Many winegrowers who have been subjected to the vagaries of the weather, or simply by wanting to experiment, buy grapes which they vinify themselves (Jean-François Ganevat, Jean-Philippe Padié, etc.). And let’s be honest, these vintages are very often their cheapest wine … It is of course possible to produce a quality wine with the purchase of grapes (La Sorga, Nicolas Vauthier, Athénais de béru, etc.), but if we add up the problematic factors, it becomes more complicated …


“Wine is like us, alive. He prefers to smell flowers than exhaust pipes…”


Urban Winery : The Energy of the City

In the article “The energy in wine“, I explain in detail how Olivier Salières, scientist tipped for the future Nobel Prize for wine, manages to measure the energy of a wine by isolating electrons and photons. He explained to me over the phone that the energy of the place obviously has an influence on that of the wine. And to obtain a wine with high energy value, the photons (which are light and pure energy) and electrons (which are a catalyst and distributor of this energy) must be able to interact without being stressed. And what can disrupt this interaction? Everything that is not natural: chemicals, concrete, high voltage lines, pollution, noise, etc. It is therefore obvious that a cellar in the countryside transmits much more energy than a cellar in the city. Wine is like us, alive. He prefers to smell flowers than exhaust pipes. Also knowing that Olivier Salières has found a correlation between wines with a high energy value, those from a great terroir and the pleasure we take to drink them, things get complicated for wines made in town …


Urban Winery : In Vino Veritas

Despite its prejudices, to get an idea of a wine, you have to taste it! Basic. During my travels in France and all around the world, I have tasted as many wines as possible from urban winery (including some from several vintages). Here is what emerges:

So… A lot of them are unbalanced and have some noticeable flaws. It is obviously not the monopoly of the wines of the city, but the proportion is much more important … For the most pleasant, they are wines without flaws, rather balanced, but often a little tasteless and watery. Wines of thirst, without much interest and with a finish that falls quickly …
This is only an opinion, far from me the idea of giving them a bad advertisement. All the managers of urban winery that I have met have a sincere approach and are rather sympathetic. We simply do not have the same vision of wine and living things. Besides, I don’t think these wines are vinified for people like me … Rather to a less boring audience, not necessarily working in the industry of wine, for whom a well-told story is enough, and who will take pleasure in drinking a wine produced downstairs from his home … But of course I only ask to be contradicted …!

@Merlin