I used to hate spittoons. They’re awkward to use, highly undignified and I still have no idea what the etiquette is if you miss.

They are now the first thing I look for at a tasting and next to which I conduct most meetings. What a stark contrast to this time last year when I was still working for a major Liquid Natural Gas operator tendering for new business and taking delivery of enormous ships. The thought of spitting out perfectly good or, shudder to think, exceptional wine was contemptible. Fast forward 12 months and, with the benefit of hindsight, particularly early morning tastings after the night before, I watch the precision and aim of seasoned professionals with envy.

The first such person I came across was Patricia Stefanowicz- Master of Wine, consultant, lecturer, UKVA judge and winner of the WSET Vintner’s Cup. She also happens to be a qualified architect and engineer who makes quilts in her “spare time.” I introduced myself, as buying a pub in Marylebone, which I intended to convert into London’s first eco-pub, with accommodation and an exclusively English wine tasting room. Neither one of us the type to be deterred by time restrictions and naysayers, we hit it off immediately and exchanged tasting notes over the latest bottles I’d bring back from an English vineyard.

When the pub fell through in the final stages over a lease extension, I realised the research and planning I had enjoyed the most, centred around English wine. I also realised that this was in part because of people who, like Patricia, had taken me under their wing: opening their vineyards and homes to teach me about English wine.

It is therefore with great pleasure that we welcome you to the Wine Pantry- London’s first English wine tasting room where, with my trusted spittoon and the support of vineyards, winemakers, enthusiasts, experts, writers, eccentrics and friends, you can sample the finest quality English wine and accompaniments.


Words: Julia Stafford


4 thoughts on “Spittoons”

  1. Nice work, Julia. I am am very much looking forward to visiting you in Borough market and hope to squeeze my way through the crowds to say hello. And I very much look forward to the chance of visiting a venue at which I can taste such a great range of wines. Thanks, good luck and see you very soon!

  2. Really lovely to meet you both today! Your wine pantry is fabulous. I love the idea of the pub! What a shame it fell through.

    Best of luck with everything and do stay in touch and let me know if I can be of any help.

    Jen xx

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