Ochota Barrels winemaker Taras Ochota says his new wine lounge will be like hanging out in his home. Especially since it’ll serve wine from his favourite, personal barrel.
“I’ll bottle it sulphur-free in clear bottles and it’ll be the house wine,” he says. “It will only be available here.”
Herein lies the beauty of Lost in a Forest. It’s personal. Set to open in early June, it’s located in a 130-year-old church in the leafy green Adelaide Hills town of Uraidla. The beautiful building is owned by Ochota’s business partner Charlie Lawrence, who took long-service leave from a career in advertising and graphic design to transform it into a laid-back hangout, complete with mezzanine lounge area, wood oven and an outdoor fire pit.
“I’ve always wanted to do something a bit more exciting with it,” Lawrence says. “It’s been in my computer as a design for three years now and it’s great to have it out of my head and happening.”
The holy building, now licensed for 48 people, has a touch of quirk thanks to reclaimed timber, restored hard rubbish, original church doors and pews, and LED fairy lights in vintage soft-drink bottles. “All the tables are old country dunny doors sanded back to reveal five layers of paint,” says Lawrence. “It’s gorgeous.”
Lawrence developed an organic pizza obsession after building a wood oven in his backyard four years ago, and has travelled the world in pursuit of the perfect slice. He and pal Nick Filsell (former head chef at Jamie’s Italian and Red Ochre Grill) began experimenting and came up with six organic pizzas, such as Brussel sprout and speck. Many of the ingredients come from Ochota’s home garden and the local pine forest.
“We’ve got about 20 half barrels filled with lovely organic soils and we’ll grow all our chilli, basil, dill and other ingredients on site. If someone decides they want a bit more basil on their pizza they can roll over to the barrel and pick some. We’re keeping it quite natural and letting people get involved.”
In the glass it’ll be natural wines from around the world, particularly Basket Range neighbours. The faces behind the bar will be familiar, too. In addition to Ochota, Justin Lane (founder of Alpha Box & Dice) and Gentle Folk winemaker Gareth Belton will be on hand, as will “cameos” from across the country.
So far, the space has only been tested out by close friends. On May 22, Africola chef Duncan Welgemoed will use the space for a one-off dinner in collaboration with New South Wales cafe Three Blue Ducks. After a “few soft launches” Lost in a Forest will officially open its grand church doors in early June. Ochota promises a welcoming, warm “I don’t really want to leave here” vibe.
“It’s a shabby shemozzle with Joy Division, DIIV and The Cure crackling on vinyl,” he says. “It’s like making wine. I love the artistic side of it and this is another avenue to get creative.”
Lost in a Forest
1203 Greenhill Road, Uraidla