Foraging Vintners (FV) have spent two years on Port Erin Bay, quietly carving out a reputation as the place to be on a sunny day. When that reclusive golden orb finally shows itself to us, hanging stoically amidst a cloudless sky; you head to Port Erin, sip at the refreshing zing of their craft sparkling wines and watch dancing reflections on bobbing seas. It’s a beautiful spot serving home-grown craft wines, all using non-grape local produce – rhubarb, elderflower and honey being the core ingredients – which feels like a celebration of the Isle of Man’s natural wonder. It’s fitting then, that FV has partnered up with Black Dub Viewing Platform for the TT. Located on Mile Marker 9 in St John’s, the Black Dub bills itself as “the ultimate trackside viewing” for the Island.
What is this Dub you speak of?
The Dub is brimming with history – it was once a mill, a water wheel, a blacksmith’s, a car yard and now, it acts as accommodation and a viewing platform for the TT. There are four cottages comprising the accommodation aspect, one has a rooftop terrace with views so good they’ll make you rub your eyes like you’re in a Bugs Bunny cartoon. There’s also the main building hosting more space for accommodation and acting as a function room. There will be great food on site from the likes of La Costena (delightful Colombian & Latin American street-food) and of course, Foraging Vintners will be bringing their full arsenal of boozy wonders. What better way to watch the races than with a glass of their signature Rhunessa (sparkling Rhubarb wine), Eltoora (sparkling Elderflower wine) or the soon to be unveiled Sparkling Mead (the name is top secret so we’re going to go out on a limb and name it ‘Bumble Juice’). A veritable selection of beers, ciders and cocktails will also be on offer, as you soak up the TT atmosphere in style.
A nice place to be
Oh, and did we mention there are toilets? PRAISE BE TO THE GOD OF PORTALOOS! Surrounded by the tranquil sounds of the creek and forest in a relaxing garden environment, the experience is world’s apart from the archetypal TT day out: You and your mates wincing through a lukewarm crate of carling in a nondescript field, huddled around a crackling radio, clutching your roll of Andrex with solemn resignation. There a viewing platform at the Dub for the race action, a burger kitchen too and as Ian says, “It’s simply a nice place to be. You’re stuck there all day so what more could you ask for?”. Mary-Beth concurs – “People can grow as the project grows. It’s a great place with great viewing and we’re trying to bring it to life”.The atmosphere promises to be electric but with a distinctive Foraging Vintners ambience too. There will be the same music played as in the bar, keeping the glen vibe of serenity, replicating the mellow mood of Port Erin bay but with the dynamism of TT added to the mix: A heady cocktail.
When does it open?
When we spoke, Ian and Mary-Beth were one day away from opening, frantically labelling bottles. Despite Ian’s mild concern -” We have so much to do in so little time”, everything panned out wonderfully. Opening night was on Saturday 25 May at noon and runs until the Final Senior Race on 7 June. Plenty of time to get your fizz on from noon till late!
How do I get there?
The official TT Bus – Bus Vannin will stop at Mile 9 on request (between Glen Helen and Laurel Bank). There are routes on the 5C and 6C buses or you can make your way to the Tynwald Inn where one of the kindly FV souls will pick you up every hour.
How much are tickets and where do I get them?
Tickets are free until Thursday practice, then it’s £5 entry from Thursday on all practice sessions, £20 on race days. Black Dub is also open on non-race days with no entry fee. Contact Black Dub via Facebook for VIP viewing area bookings.
Mary-Beth reflects on the success of FV thus far and the future of the collaboration with the Black Dub. She envisions a winner’s podium covered in bubbling remnants of Foraging Vintners wine, a hint of steely determination rising forth from her ebullient tone – “We will win!”. Not bad for a bar that, in a Withnail & I-esque moment of incredulity, she says “we opened mistakenly”. Now, the winery which lets the natural do all the talking – in both landscape and ingredient – will be on hand, helping to provide an authentic TT experience.