New indie for Gateshead

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Next month will see the opening of Victor Indigo November, a wine shop and bar in Gateshead.

The business will specialise in French wine, which will account for 60% of the range, sourced from Yapp Bros and VineTrail. Wines from Boutinot will complete the line-up, which will start with 200 lines but may grow to nearer 1,000.

Owner Charlotte Fenwick says her love of wine had developed to the point where just blogging about it wasn’t enough.

It’s been seven years since she had a bit of a wine epiphany while on her honeymoon in the Rhône Valley. Since then, Charlotte, a former accountant, and her wife Lorrie have made all their holidays about wine.

Missing their sojourns to wine regions during lockdown, Charlotte says she turned to home study. “During that time, I just read a lot about wine and absorbed all this knowledge,” she says. “I started a wine blog and I just developed a real understanding of the people and places behind it. Then in 2021 I did my WSET Level 2 and I really enjoyed it. I was still working as an accountant at that point. It’s a great career, but it wasn’t exciting me. So I had this idea that I wanted to move into the wine industry, but wasn’t really sure what I would do.”

Charlotte says the death of her brother at the end of 2021 was the catalyst for her decision to start her own wine business.

“It changed my entire kind of outlook on life and my mindset,” she says. “The thing about being an accountant is it does pay well, it’s a secure job and you can save for a pension and all of these things. But I just realised that you’re saving for a retirement that is not guaranteed. You’re working really hard for the future and not actually living for today. So after we lost Daniel, I just started planning this, because life is too short and I need to find ways to make myself happy.”

VIN will also have a small range of spirits, beers, ciders and soft drinks at the bar, but the couple don’t want to step on the toes of the neighbouring micro pubs.

The old railway arch in Gateshead’s Bridges Quarter was an empty shell when the pair took it on in January. Lorrie’s plastering skills and general “hard graft” have transformed the premises, with new flooring and pine shelving lending a “rustic” vibe.

“We’re building the counter ourselves,” says Charlotte, “and we’re putting really nice dark wood benches in the window. It will have a French bistro feel. It’s quite open-plan; the bar and the retail area flow together.

“We’ve got about 60 square metres. These arches are deceptively big, but it’s very cold. Once we’ve got people in here, and our wine fridge and our cheese counter, those will kick out a bit of heat. It will never be boiling hot, so that’s great for the wine.”

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