Bristol winemaker competes for spot on Aldi's shelves in new Channel 4 series

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His drinks company was born out of the small urban vineyard on his allotment in Montpelier

Bristol-based 'allotment' winemaker and kombucha brewer James Bayliss-Smith will take part in Channel 4's Aldi's Next Big Thing where he is competing for his canned wines to appear as a Specialbuy in over 1,000 Aldi stores.

His drinks company, Nania's Vineyard, was born out of, and inspired by, the small urban vineyard on his allotment in Montpelier, Bristol. 

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During the lockdown in 2020, James launched an award-winning rosé spritz. He then went on to produce the UK’s first low-intervention canned ‘natural wines’; an ‘orange’ wine in a can (skin contact white wine) and a red field blend.

 

James Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion CommunicationsJames Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion Communications
James Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion Communications | Clarion Communications

James will be appearing on the episode Party in Channel 4's Aldi's Next Big Thing on April 16 at 8pm, where he will pitch two varieties of his low ABV English wine spritzes made with just three ingredients; English wine, quality cocktail syrups from the Bristol Syrup Company and ‘magical’ Glastonbury spring water. One is a rosé-based spritz made with Rondo grapes grown in Sussex and the other is a white wine-based spritz made with Bacchus grapes grown in Kent.

The six-part series, which started airing on April 2, is hosted by Anita Rani from Countryfile and BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour and Chris Bavin from BBC's The One Show and Eat Well for Less. Episodes air every Tuesday at 8pm until May 7.

Suppliers compete in a range of categories including dinners, baked goods, party, world and confectionery. The products are presented to Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, who deliberates on factors such as price, packaging, shopper demand, and the ability to scale up, before shortlisting contestants down to just two. 

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Naria's Vineyard. Copyright: Clarion CommunicationsNaria's Vineyard. Copyright: Clarion Communications
Naria's Vineyard. Copyright: Clarion Communications | Clarion Communications

The finalists are then given four weeks to address any feedback, with a follow-up home visit from Anita or Chris who will report back their findings to Julie. The three then taste-test the improved products, before Julie decides the winner which will appear as a Specialbuy in over 1,000 stores. 

Julie Ashfield, Managing Director of Buying at Aldi UK, said: “The market for lower alcohol products is in big growth right now – there’s lots of demand. It’s a nice space to be in”.

James says: "When our family moved into the wonderful Bristol neighbourhood of Montpelier, the very first thing we did was plant 30 vines on the adjoining allotment and Nania’s Vineyard was born. Several vintages later and we’ve outgrown our allotment vines but we’ll never forget our roots!

James Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion CommunicationsJames Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion Communications
James Bayliss-Smith. Copyright: Clarion Communications | Clarion Communications

"We’re now working with some fantastic partners in the English and Welsh Wine industries producing the UK’s first low-intervention canned wines. We’ve also built a microbrewery on the vineyard where we continue our fermentation journey brewing barrel-fermented kombuchas.

“I’ve been a one-man band to date, selling to local independent shops, so to get a contract with Aldi would be like going from a kid’s scooter to a Ferrari.”

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