If you still think Queensland winemaking is an oddity, your sensibilities are about to be upturned. A new winery is preparing to press grapes right in the heart of Brisbane.
In March City Winery will open in the Fortitude Valley premises formerly occupied by Campos Coffee. It will be just the third urban winery in Australia, after Sydney’s Urban Winery and Melbourne’s Noisy Ritual.
The venue is by Dave Cush and Adam Penberthy. It was a chance meeting at Game of Rhones in 2017 that brought the pair together. Cush, formerly a winemaker at Tasmania’s Spring Vale Wines, had moved back to Queensland and was making wine out of a shipping container. Penberthy, whose own love for wine had him and his wife looking at buying a vineyard, saw Cush’s stall at the event and the two were soon turning over ideas for a collaboration.
Penberthy says City Winery owes its existence in part to the maker movement that has swept across Australia in recent years.
"People are wanting authentic experiences with the people behind the brand," he says. "They want to come up and speak to the winemaker. One of the issues in Queensland is the travel. In some cases it’s many hours to go and have those experiences."
Taking Broadsheet on a behind-the-scenes look at the new venue, Penberthy describes how an expansive space at the front of the building will be a full, working winery with a cellar door during the day. Come evening the room, filled with French and American oak barrels, will transform into a wine bar.
The experience won’t end there. A 70-seat restaurant headed by chef Travis Crane (formerly of The Barrelroom in Ballandean) will focus on local produce cooked over open fire and be complemented by a 20-seat private dining and event space. Visitors will also be able to stomp on grapes, make their own blends and help out with the bottling process of Cush and Penberthy’s Gerler Wines.
Cush is sourcing the best varietals he can get his hands on from different regions across Australia. Previous vintages for Gerler have included a fiano, grenache, chardonnay and shiraz, while this year a gewürztraminer, tempranillo, sangiovese and riesling are all on the cards.
The name of the wines is a nod to Carl Gerler, a German missionary who owned a vineyard along the Brisbane River in the 1800s.
"In the 1800s across Australia winemakers were in the cities," Penberthy says. "In Brisbane alone there were 350 acres of vines spread across the city. All we’re doing is circling back to a way wine was made in the past."
11 Wandoo Street, Fortitude Valley