Monkey business in Chippenham

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The Cellar by Wine Monkey will open towards the end of April in Chippenham.

Owner Bryan Houde initially created the Wine Monkey website as a vehicle to sell wines made by producers that he has a relationship with. Houde has worked at several wineries and in vineyards across France and southern Oregon and is keen to represent those wines in the UK.

“I’m looking to direct import the wines that I specifically have chosen,” Houde says. “If others that I want are already here, like Chêne Bleu, then I will work with those suppliers. I’d rather import myself when I can, but I’m not looking to become a big merchant-distributor.

“Now I’ve got this bricks-and-mortar space I have more room to store wine and I can expand.

“I’m very excited that I’ll be bringing on another winery where I was an intern years ago in the Roussillon. They are a really small boutique, organic winery: a husband-and-wife team who are doing fantastic things. They have been keen to get into the UK and I’ve always said, ‘as soon as I can do it, I’m going to do it’. I’d like to keep adding more one-to-one relationship partner wineries where I can.”

Houde is working with Sustainable Wine Solutions (part of Borough Wines), for his tap system. Although this is mainly intended for the bar, it will also make refills available for retail.

There will be a range of craft beers and spirits, as well as cheese and charcuterie boards with homemade hummus and tapenade.

Houde describes the premises as “a completely white box” when he took it on. “There was no power, no toilets, no heating, nothing. This week the guys have been putting up the walls, putting in the ceiling, and it looks like a space now. I can start to see how it’s going to come together,” he says.

“The concrete floors are really good looking so I’ll seal them and leave them exposed. I want a lot of plant life and natural materials inside, so wood and things to add texture. We’ve got floor-to-ceiling windows so it’s really a bright and airy space.”

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