Pioneering Welsh bar & restaurant group and Spanish food importer Ultracomida has expanded on its wine retail offering – with investment in a Cardiff ‘wine warehouse’ which will be open to both trade and the general public by summer 2022.
The independent boutique operators are well known for bringing a casual dining style influenced by Northern Spain to Wales, through their award-winning wine shops, delis, and restaurants in Wales; Ultracomida in Narberth and Aberystwyth, and Curado Bar and Vermut in the Welsh capital.
More recently, wine retail has become a major focus for the group, with more than 4,500 sq ft of warehousing space acquired in Aberystwyth last year. Spanish Wines Direct, at Glan Yr Afon Industrial Estate, is open to the public and offers up to 15 bottles of wine to taste at any time; wholesale customers can also book in for guided tastings / training.
The venture has proved so successful, that the group is now investing in a further 6,900 sq ft of warehousing space in Cardiff, on Penarth Road. The second venue will stock more than 500 different Spanish wines, with a focus on smaller producers, indigenous grapes, and under-the-radar regions.
A despensa section (the pantry) will be fully stocked with the olive oils, olives, tinned fish and other para picar (nibbles) to take away. There will also be a small bar area for holding tasting sessions for small groups, and the option to ‘try before you buy’.
Whilst Ultracomida co-founders Paul Grimwood and Shumana Palit originally began focussing on wine retail during the pandemic (whilst their restaurants were closed), they believe the demand for quality Spanish wines is only set to continue.
Paul explained, “We saw our online wine sales increase by more than 50% during the pandemic, as people looked to drink better and more interesting wines at home. This gave us the push to open our Aberystwyth warehouse, which has since gone from strength to strength. We’re hoping to emulate that success in Cardiff – and increase the storage capacity for our online sales, too.”
Last year, the group launched their Spanish wine subscription service, via their dedicated wine website. Customers around the UK pay £35 a month to get 12 hand-picked bottles of quality Spanish wine delivered on a quarterly basis.
Shumana added, “We import so much directly from the producers, which allows us to offer a more varied range than anyone else. We have used the last couple of years to focus on wines from under the radar regions in Spain – think Montilla-Moriles, Valencia, Catalunya.
We’ve deepened our connections to winemakers who have challenged themselves to look for new ways of reviving traditional grapes, and of using low intervention and more sustainable methods of farming. We can’t wait to share all of this with our Cardiff customers at the new warehouse this summer.”
Spanish Wines Direct on Penarth Road is planned to open July 2022.