Today Hackney’s Netil Market is hosting the capital’s first ‘Wine Car Boot‘ , an outdoor wine tasting event that looks to promote local wine shops, and encourage drinkers to think more about the quality of wine they are purchasing.
The event will consist of six hours of drinking and eating, and is affiliated to the sister company Street Vin; which runs every Friday and Saturday at Dalston Yard as part of the Street Feast night market.
Ruth Spivey is the woman behind the two ventures, and with the help of seven of the best independent wine shops in London, is today parking up to showcase their five favourite wines.
Leading up to the event ELL caught up with Ruth to discuss her new venture.
The story of Street Vin has roots a long way from the food and wine industry, and even further from the street; Ruth was a fashion model before starting the venture. She fell into the industry at an early age after being scouted and it soon became a full time career.
Years later, Ruth felt she had achieved all she could through modelling, having traveled the world and worked with some of the biggest names in fashion. Now, she wanted to create something of her own.
A big transition from the world of fashion, Ruth says the flexibility running a business gives is much better suited to her personality.
“Modelling is such a unique industry, there’s nothing else quite like it, a really odd lifestyle. Now, I’ve taken personal pleasure from having control over my own career.
“With modelling it’s hard to put any effort in elsewhere as you’re managed by an agency that control your bookings and do all negotiation and administration. To be passionate and creative as a fashion model is difficult.”
Ruth has been interested in wine since here early twenties, and would often go to tastings. Through the development of this interest, Ruth knew, on leaving fashion, that food and wine was the direction she’d take when it came to launching her own business.
“I wanted to engage with people and use wine as the medium to create a new experience and unique atmosphere,” she says.
“I would often go to festivals or large events and there’d never be any good wine available. I’d go to food events and be offered all types of quality beverages, but good wine was missing. I saw a gap in the market and it was something I was experiencing firsthand.”
Ruth says that although London boasts quality independent wine shops, she feels that they can be considered intimidating and overcomplicated; designed for stuffy connoisseurs rather than the average consumer.
“The staff [in London] are in fact friendly, the wine affordable and the selection far superior to that of supermarkets,” she says.
“I wanted to bring the indie wine scene to the edgy, relaxed environments that have been popping up all over London during the summer. To give the public a chance to taste and enjoy wine in a familiar setting, rather than at tasting events or trade shows. The idea was to offer the opportunity to taste, try, meet and learn.
“I wanted to remove the stuffiness.”
Having created the concept and gained some experience of the food and drink industry through working a number of restaurants and events, the next step was to build connections with the independent retailers. Ruth looked to friend and mentor, Jonathan Downey, to help her pitch Street Vin and Wine Car Boot concepts to popular events across London.
Jonathan Downey, renowned for his London cocktail empire and founder of the Match Group, has recently turned his attention to street food events. He now runs a number of ventures and Ruth says she was particularly influenced by his one day events such as Ribstock, and Tacowars. It was through talking with Downey that Ruth gained the experience and confidence to take Street Vin to the public.
“You can think of it as the medium of the street. Street Vin brings an element of class and style to edgy urban outdoor food events; it doesn’t have to be downplayed, you just need the right temperature and glass.
“It’s surprising what you can do with support and a low profile infrastructure.”
The main challenges she has faced have come in the set up costs; she is completely running the show by herself, and the start up investment was spent on a website, signage and the equipment.
“It feels great to be in sole control, however, at times an assistant wouldn’t go amiss,” she ads.
In the future, the plan is to collaborate with more shops to take Street Vin across the capital. Ruth plans to pop by to every independent wine store in London, and take their products out on the street, making quality wine accessible to all – bottoms up!