James Hopkins likes to refer to The Fruitful Pursuit as a “wine playground”. The intimate tasting sessions are an opportunity for education and discovery, sure. But first and foremost, they’re about fun.
If you had any doubt, the poster for TFP’s forthcoming spring session (by designer Anthony Gagliardi) features a wine-themed jumping castle.
“It's a playground for the senses … designed for those who want to indulge while soaking up some knowledge in the process,” Hopkins says.
“It’s a very open format – no tasting benches or formalities. Just splashing upon splashing and good, hearty chats.”
A year-and-a-half on from its public debut, The Fruitful Pursuit has become something of a juggernaut in Adelaide’s transforming wine scene. From expansive, roving winery tours to exploratory tasting parties to intimate education sessions, it’s a regular and evolving presence on a packed culinary calendar. Its tireless leader Hopkins works hard to keep each event fresh.
“The culture’s constantly evolving,” he says. “We’re just trying to keep up and keep Adelaide up with it too. We flip the list of winemakers every time, [we] change venues … Every wine playground is a new conversation.”
The forthcoming session at Arcade Lane will feature local producers Juxtaposed, Koerner, Lino Ramble, Ochota Barrels, Ricca Terra, The Stoke and Worlds Apart. They’ll be pouring alongside winemakers from Victoria, Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia.
Hopkins has a few tip-offs: “I’m keen to lift the lid on Julian Langworthy’s new single-vineyard line Nocturne, that he and his wife Alana are handcrafting over in Margaret River,” he says.
“There’s a tidal wave of talent coming across from the Yarra, including Sarah Crowe from Yarra Yering. Richie Harkham of Harkham Estate in Hunter Valley makes some of the most delightful natural wines in the country … and any time spent near Bryan Martin or any Ravensworth wine is time well spent.”
For Adelaide wine drinkers with parochial tastes, there’s plenty of knowledge to be gained, and a new favourite drop to discover. It’s “… for the more conscious consumers among us,” Hopkins is quick to point out. Some of the producers on the bill make natural wines, some use sustainable or biodynamic practices, some are emerging and some are established, but all are pushing the craft into new territory.
“[It’s] essentially a snapshot of the most relevant happenings in wine across Australia,” he says. “The new, the obscure, the rare. There’s clearly some underlying ethics we're driven by, but the broad focus is on those pushing wine forward, on a human level.”
Besides the wine, guests can enjoy Ounce Gin, Dawn Patrol coffee, Section 28 cheese and Steven Ter Horst chocolates. With so many producers in one space, there’s been a strong focus on collaboration this time around.
“[There’s] too much talent in the one place to not unleash a few one-off treats,” says Hopkins. He suggests the Ounce at Dawn Espresso Martini (made from Ounce Gin and Dawn Patrol beans) for a "half-time pick-me-up". There are whispers of “anti-hangover slushies”, too. Neighbouring The Propaganda Club will provide some tasty food options.
Steven Ter Horst will again present a free masterclass on the day – pairing chocolates made with wine, with the wines. “It’ll rearrange your face, in a good way,” says Hopkins. Spots are strictly limited, so first in best dressed.
The Fruitful Pursuit is on Saturday October 7 from 1pm–5pm. Tickets are $65 (+ booking fee) and include a take-home TFP glass. Bottles will be available to purchase on the day.