Bottle Chop Headingley: Meet the couple behind the Leeds bottle shop where you can refill your wine on tap

Among the mayhem of the Otley Run bar crawl is a little business bringing an oasis of calm into Headingley.

By Abbey Maclure
Sunday, 12th June 2022, 4:30 pm

Bottle Chop, founded by the duo behind coffee shop Fika North, is a wine and beer shop, bar and micro-deli - specialising in natural wines.

Gemma and Elis Williams have been astounded by the support of the community since opening their coffee shop in April 2019.

Queues snaked down Otley Road during lockdown as customers waited for a takeaway coffee - and as restrictions were eased, the pair began to form an idea for a second business.

Elis and Gemma Williams are the founders of Bottle Chop in Headingley (Photo: Simon Hulme)

Gemma, 42, said: “When we opened Fika North, we were looking for everything to be gorgeous and high quality.

"The coffee is made in small batches and it’s really special.

“To go alongside that, we thought we’d look into wine - and that’s when we discovered natural wines.

“When you make something carefully, using small-scale producers, you get a much better outcome.”

Bottle Chop stocks a range of natural wines and craft beers, with rotating drinks on tap that allow customers to refill their bottles (Photo: Simon Hulme)

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After a successful trial selling wine from the Fika North window, Gemma and Elis snapped up the unit of the former Beer Ritz on Weetwood Lane, opening Bottle Chop in August last year.

Gemma said: “People were intrigued by it - and we were as interested as our customers were.

“We didn’t have a clue whether it was going to work and we’ve never worked with wine. But before Fika, we’d never worked with coffee.

“We’ve got a great team and we employ people from the category that got hit hard when hospitality closed.

"Because they are so hardworking and dedicated, I felt like we could take a punt and open this place.”

Customers have commented on the Mediterranean feel of the business - there is a small seating area where they can have a glass of wine along with a selection of cheese and meat from the deli counter.

Bottle Chop stocks a range of natural wines and craft beers, with rotating drinks on tap that allow customers to bring back their bottle and refill time and time again - cutting back on waste.

“Our aim is to make wine accessible to everybody," Gemma added.

"Wine is so steeped in heritage and it feels like we need a degree to talk about it - but I don’t think that’s the case.

"It can be pretentious, but we want to make everybody feel relaxed and to try and taste new things.

"Natural wine is simple - wine made the way it was always meant to be, without intervention. It's vegan, organic and often biodynamic - it's grape juice. Really great grape juice."

Gemma praised the support of her customers - who carried Fika North through lockdown and are now visiting Bottle Chop in spades.

“It's overwhelming," she said.

"I’ve always felt like the community really supports us and that makes me want to keep giving them quality.

“Within the Otley Run mayhem, we bring a super-chilled vibe - which isn’t to do with dressing up as a banana!

"And I love working with my crew - I’ve got artists, musicians and people doing different things.

"But I want to make sure they’re getting the best out of this experience, because then they give it back in droves.

"Myself and Elis both live and breathe the businesses, we’re completely immersed in it.”