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Essential Journal

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Essential Introductions: Wasted Wine Club

A haven for wayward wines, Wasted Wine Club was founded with one purpose: to combat the massive amount of wastage that the wine industry produces each year. No small task, then, eh?

The winemaking industry is one that is heavy on resource consumption. Although recent efforts have been made to improve sustainability in the process, the art of crafting wine, no matter how sustainable your endeavours may be, is one that requires a substantial amount of environmental resources. And, to further encroach on the drudgery, as Wasted Wine Club founder Angelo van Dyk informs me, “Most winemakers end up with an extreme surplus of product that simply isn’t cost effective to bottle and market. Sometimes this can be blended away, but most of the time it simply gets poured down the drain.” Shocking, right?

A wine connoisseur himself, Angelo grew up in Durban, South Africa where food and drink culture was woven into the everyday life of his small town; an open-door policy, a shared sense of community,  all tangled together by the ritual of meal time. He went on to study Winemaking at Stellenbosch University before moving to London to enrich himself in the wine culture of The Big Smoke. Shortly after, he got a job working for a supplier in the capital and set up his own wine company — Yo El Rey Wines. 

It was on a harvest trip back to his old haunt of Stellenbosch that Angelo sat with a fellow winemaker who was lamenting on the wastage of several barrels of cabernet franc that hadn’t been touched for years. It was too expensive to bottle so it was going to have to go down the drain. 

“The wine wasn’t bad, or off, it was simply excess,” Angelo explains.

So, back in London, he began to puzzle this problem between work and his own manufacturing. If only there were someone, some presence, that could take that wasted wine and repurpose it, curate a new wine, perhaps in collaboration with a celebrated winemaker, and ensure that none of it ever went to waste. 

And thus was the pitch for Wasted Wine Club. A very large venture for a very small team, Angelo tapped into his contacts in the winemaking world and began to offer the idea out, to see if anyone was interested in another step towards this sustainable process. 

When I chat to Angelo over the phone, the flickering of busy London traffic behind him, Wasted Wine Club is still in its infancy but there is no denying the enthusiasm and the dedication that he has for the scope of this business. Their first two wines, a curated collaboration of Chenin Blanc & Semillon and Cinsaut with winemaker Alex McFarlane, are flying from their online store and, frankly, it’s no surprise: the blend is an outstanding quality bred from a deep knowledge, understanding, and respect for the artistry of winemaking. 

Even as the company expands, with keen interest from vineyards across the world, this ethos will never shift or falter.

“Wasted Wine Club is about honouring the craftsmanship of the wine in the first instance. It’s then elevated and packaged so that it can be experienced by more people. Every wine we curate will always be a high quality wine where passion and experience are evident.”

Words: Beth Bennett
Imagery: Wasted Wine Club