The Grapevine: the journey so far


Oliver Kinsley invited me to The Grapevine to tell me more about the new branding of his business and what he wants to deliver to locals in Rye in the future. He wants the bar to be a destination for locals. “I want people to know it is under new ownership. I have a business partner and we are rebranding ourselves as new owners and taking a fresh look at what The Grapevine is”

Oliver and Peter at the Grapevine

What is different about your fresh look?

“Already there is a lot more live music: we have over ten gigs a week including every evening. We want to do a lot more for the local community and are seeking to work with other small-business owners. If we all pull together collectively, we can help the local shops and the hospitality business. We want to get involved in events like the Rye Jazz Festival. We want to promote the town in general and showcase what it has to offer.

“The first step of the journey was to get the mix of the music right. We remain open until midnight every single night and ours is a place where we offer a warm welcome. You can come in as a party or on your own and you will be made to feel at home. We are really busy at the weekends, and we want to encourage people to come more in the weekdays so we are looking for new ways to do this.

“The Grapevine is primarily a champagne bar. We offer over 30 Champagnes, 100 wines, 20 gins, and much more”

The private person behind the public face

Oliver was born and raised in south-east Asia and spent a lot of time during the summer holidays of his childhood in Burgundy, France.

The Grapevine

That is where his attraction to the wine industry first started. His move to the UK, from a buzzing city like Hong Kong to quiet countryside, was quite a shock. One day he was walking past the Grapevine and came in to find out if there was a job going. The music wafting onto the cobbled streets outside enticed him in. Four years later he got the opportunity to purchase half of it with his business partner Peter Ockenden. Peter spent twenty-five years touring the world as a professional poker player and running alongside this was a series of successful businesses, so he knew that the partnership was in good hands. After Brexit he returned to the UK and was a regular customer at The Grapevine. A friendship was forged which led easily to a partnership.

It is great place to work, and staff get looked after really well.

“My favourite part of working at The Grapevine are the people on both sides of the bar, the team and customers are great people to be around” – Matt, staff member.

“I love the ambience and atmosphere in The Grapevine, it’s a unique place. Oli is a great host, the wine list is outstanding, and I feel totally relaxed and at home there” – John, local customer.

“The Grapevine is my favourite local place to sing. I absolutely love how it’s focused around live music. Everyone who comes in is excited to listen and always seems to enjoy The Grapevine experience. We need more venues like this one that take you back in time to the speak-easy era. If you pay a visit to Rye this is THE bar to go to.” – Victoria Bass, a resident musician

So, if you are looking for employment and have the enthusiasm, the energy and the commitment, do get in touch with Oliver on 01797 227531 or via

Oliver summed up the journey so far, “Our greatest achievement since taking The Grapevine over has been the introduction of live music every single night of the year, including several gigs over the weekends. This is unusual for a small countryside town outside of London. Over the upcoming weeks, we’re aiming to introduce more high-profile gigs as well, these will be ticketed depending on where you sit, and we hope to have well-established jazz and blues musicians, internationally recognised, performing at The Grapevine. Keep an eye on our website and social media to see what’s coming up.”

Image Credits: Kt bruce , The Grapevine .

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  1. A supportive note from The Founder of The Grapevine. Well done Oli.

    “The journey so far” actually started way back when Oli was a fresh faced teenager who joined me at The Grapevine as a part time assistant. Oli soon became a full time member of the team and embraced the concept of providing great customer service to both the Rye locals and to the visitors alike.

    Oli also assisted me when I launched the Rye Wine and Jazz Club which he operated almost single handed during the covid lockdown. Oli has a great knowledge of wines and he is committed to providing both a quality and professional service. This young man will go far, so please support him.

    Oli and Peter acquired The Grapevine just over a year ago, however, I retained the Rye Wine and Jazz Club for myself and although being a separate business from The Grapevine the club fully supports Oli’s quest for providing more live music in Rye. Congratulations on the live music every night of the week.

    Rye Wine and Jazz Club has its new home at The Bell in Iden with its focus on supporting and showcasing our many talented local musicians.

    Oli deserves the full support of the locals as he is a dedicated and respectful young man who will continue to operate The Grapevine as one of the country’s top places in the South East to visit.

    Oli’s opportunity to aquire The Grapevine came as a result of me suffering from long covid and I couldn’t have wished for a better person to continue with my vision for the business. I would like to wish both Oli and Peter all the very best with their new venture and I hope the locals will support them more than they have previously. It’s a fabulous addition to the town.

    The Grapevine is a unique, stylish and welcoming place to visit, providing both local residents and Rye’s many visitors with “A Touch of Class”

    Louis Swann
    Founder of The Grapvine

  2. Very well said Louis.
    The Grapevine is fabulous and unique and a real asset to Rye.
    And Oliver is not only a smart business man but a charming person.
    Very good luck to all and long live the Grapevine.

    • All doors and windows are to be kept shut when music is playing, you are right Trevor.

      The grapevine just needs to do this, then their customers can enjoy themselves and people nearby can sleep too.

  3. And when they’ve managed to shut the entrance door while the live music is playing,as they are required, they can then set about actually fitting some glass panes into the window frames, to stop the music speaker that is there blaring out into the street well into the night.


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