When Broadsheet spoke to Son of Dot wine distributor Jay Marinis ahead of his first Ute Boot event, his aim was to demystify the relatively esoteric world of natural wine and get people thinking more deeply about what we’re consuming. All while selling top Adelaide Hills drops from the boot of a ute.
Now the concept, and team, has expanded. And Marinis is thinking bigger.
“For me, this whole thing couldn’t be less about selling wine,” he tells Broadsheet, frankly. “I couldn’t give a fuck about selling wine, and, yet, that’s the business I find myself in. But I think you can talk about the things you’re passionate about no matter where you are … you can find your voice and use whatever industry you’re working in as a vehicle to express that.”
For the next Ute Boot, on Sunday September 8 across Golden Boy and Africola, Marinis is using his platform to bring to light the processes of winemaking, with a key focus on regenerative farming practices.
He’s programmed five speakers for the day, including Son of Dot’s newly recruited team member Lucien Alperstein (Jon Zagler has also joined the fold as events coordinator), who met Marinis while the latter was working at The Summertown Aristologist. Sydney-bred Alperstein studied microbiology and is currently doing an honours project on Indigenous Australian fermented drinks at the University of Adelaide. He’ll be speaking on the day, via webcam, about indigenous yeast and fermentation.
The talks will begin with a welcome to country by Kaurna and Narungga man Jack Buckskin. “I’ve given him the liberty to speak about whatever he wants to speak about … I think that will go in the direction of Indigenous farming practices,” says Marinis.
“And [Lucy Margaux winemaker] Anton van Klopper is going to do a poem and they always gets pretty weird. He’ll probably talk about love and lust and what the vine is as a sexual organ and how we should be putting back into the soil. Ruby Wake [who runs Unley Repair Café] is going to talk about sustainability, [Jauma winemaker] James Erskine is going to talk about soil – his PhD is in soil health and bio-diversity – and [The Other Right winemaker] Alex Schulkin is going to talk about the science of pét-nat.”
For Marinis, Ute Boot is an opportunity to open up the world of wine, far beyond what’s in the glass. He’s calling it a “no-tasting tasting”.
“[So many tastings are] just, ‘Let’s get pissed’ and ‘how many wines can I get for the ticket price’. So we’re … trying to rebuke the notion of ownership and get rid of expectation,” he says.
That means no free tastings. “Everything will be wholesale by the bottle, to takeaway and to drink in … But if you want to have a glass of wine … you can spread it over three glasses and try three different things. Spit it out if you don’t want to get too drunk.
“For me, imbibing is one thing and using alcohol in a ceremonious nature is another, and the third thing is binge drinking, and I’m not trying to promote that.”
Marinis has hand-picked some of South Australia's top producers, including those in his Son of Dot stable – Commune of Buttons, Scintilla (formerly Little Things), Limus Wines, Basket Range Wines and Travis Tausend – to flog their wares. He’s also invited guest winemakers Manon Wine, Lucy Margaux, Tom Shobbrook, The Other Right, Borachio, Jauma and Comme ci Comme ça, who’ll set up in the Golden Boy and Africola windows.
All the producers have similar philosophies around winemaking, from the foundations of farming and production to the act of sharing. “First and foremost the thing that ties them together is their openness and generosity,” says Marinis. “I think the people I work with all have an incumbent view of giving, and I think that’s the most important thing. And I think that pairs really well with the idea of giving back to the land, which is what their farming practices do … I think sometimes that whole natural-wine world seems a bit closed off, but these people are really open and they want to welcome people into it.
“Other than that they’re wild-yeast fermented products, so spontaneous fermentation – allowing things to occur when they do, from the indigenous yeasts that occur naturally around them – and they all, pretty much, are zero-addition wines. And [they’re] organically and/or bio-dynamically farmed.”
There’ll also be beers from Wildflower Brewing and cocktails by Applewood Distillery – who’ll set up in Golden Boy’s specky new basement bar – for non wine drinkers, as well as booze-free beers from Indigenous owned and operated Gold Coast company Sobah.
The talks will run from 2pm to 3pm, after which there'll be live music from The Various Nefarious (“a six-piece trad-cabaret jazz band”), Rune Billy Rattle (“four-piece version of Dr Piffle”), ADI from Slow Mango and Banjo Jackson. DJ Mark Kamleh will spin records through the evening.
As for the “ute” aspect, it’s a little more tenuous this time around. But, “There will be one ute and what Jon’s dad calls a tub – the back of a ute – filled with ice and cold wines”, promises Marinis.
Ute boot II is on Sunday September 8 from 12pm till late on the corner of North Terrace and East Terrace. Entry is free.