5 Minutes With: Alessandro Allegretti, Wine To Go East

You may have noticed this contemporary bottle shop on the High Road. Nice, isn’t it?

Wine To Go East: a contemporary take on the bottle shop. Photo: WTG
Wine To Go East: a contemporary take on the bottle shop. Photo: WTG

When did you move to Leytonstone?
Just over six years ago from south London. We love the High Road vibe, which is jam packed with all sorts of entrepreneurs and independents selling products from all walks of life. We’ve been really touched by the welcome from Leytonstoners, with almost the first question being: are you a pop-up? To which we say no, and they say, “we’re so pleased you’re here to stay.”

Ah. What’s the background to the shop?
I grew up in Italy, spending most of my childhood in my grandfather’s vineyards – which kick-started my love of wine. When I came to England, after some time working in Italian restaurants I moved into the wine trade, where I became a national account manager for a large Italian producer. The job involved travel, but with our first baby on the way in 2011 I needed work that kept me closer to home.

Allessandro's grandfather had vineyards. Photo: AA
Allessandro’s grandfather had vineyards. Photo: AA

So you took the plunge?
Yes, and opened my own wine shop, the Woodford Wine Room, specialising in small and artisan producers from Italy, in Woodford Green. Every summer I go back to Italy, a bit of a busman’s holiday, scouting at the grass roots for producers. During my last trip to Sicily, I got really into Vino Sfuso, which means ‘loose wine’, and is a traditional way of selling wine from barrel to bottle, which over the last few years has seen a big revival on the Italian high street. I was looking to expand the business, and after my trip, really wanted to try the Vino Sfuso concept in the UK.

Was it popular straight away?
I started doing it in the corner of the store, and then tried it out in the local farmers’ markets – and yes, customers were enthusiastic. The natural next step was to try it out on a bigger scale. Hence, the Wine to Go concept was born, a place with more sfuso and less bottled wine, apart from my handpicked selection. We initially found a premises in a different high street, which fell through due to complications with the lease. Disappointed, one day we were walking up the high street and saw a small shop up for rent and thought, why not Leytonstone? We couldn’t think of many reasons for not to try it here, so we went for it…and here we are.

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What do you offer customers that others don’t?
Good quality, value-for-money bottles from small and artisan producers. I work directly with them and see ourselves as contemporary merchants, brokering direct to the UK high street, and then taking a more modern approach to selling it, a bit like a wine version of street food. We also try to embed eco-friendly touches where we can, from the refillable bottles to selling more natural state wines with organic grapes and less sulphites, and using electronic receipts. We hope to develop our already popular wine club and events model in Woodford with our Leytonstone customers; and have some instore collaborations lined up with other wine and lifestyle-related products. Exciting times.

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Find Wine To Go East at 696c High Road Leytonstone, London E11 3AJ.
  • Show Comments

  • Drew Heatley

    Emily Beth Heatley “open daily till late”

  • Rach Sleet

    He’s so cool

  • Sue Fendt

    Justin and Daniel, saw this and thought of you both ..

  • Jane Ramsell

    Like the sound of the wine club! Lorraine Atkins U0001f60a

  • Lesley Moghaddassi

    I’ll have to try this. I love Italian wine. And I like the idea of refillable bottles too.

  • Lorraine Atkins

    Any idea where this is in the high Road Jane?

  • Jane Ramsell

    Nig went the other day and says it’s next to Natwest bank. We’ve got a lovely white of theirs on the go with Strictly right now!

  • Lorraine Atkins

    How is it price wise?

  • Jane Ramsell

    More than a supermarket, less than Majestic. Between £7-£12 a bottle. Plus the refillable bottles – pay £2.50 for the bottle (one off cost) then around £5-£7 to fill them up.

  • Martina Kehoe

    Defo up for checking this out! x