Gary Mills has been working 16-hour days all year – and he’s loving it.
For the first time in his 20-year career, the guy behind Jamsheed Wines has his own winery and cellar door. And by extension, a lot more freedom. He’s spending his days working with Victorian-grown riesling, chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir, and his nights tending bar with his partner, Elika Rowell.
It’s all happening inside a spacious two-level warehouse in Preston, officially christened Jamsheed Urban Winery just before Christmas.
“It’s wonderful,” Mills says. “It’s been a really nice mix of people coming here just because they heard there’s an urban winery in Preston and other people who go, ‘I’ve been drinking your wines for years’.”
The place feels like a brewery, right down to the naked concrete floors, sparse industrial-chic furnishings, stacks of barrels strewn about the place and beer taps behind the bar. Hop Nation pale ale, Coburg lager and Bentspoke gose are on pour, as well as Jamsheed’s fresh 2019 vintages of pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and sagrantino.
Things get most exciting in bottle, though. White wines typically consist of fermented juice but no skins. In contrast, the 2019 riesling listed under the heading “Park Wines” (a vague but evocative category of young, bright, extremely drinkable types) spent two weeks “on skins”, to acquire a mild savouriness and gentler acidity. Also under the Park heading: Lemon Haze, an unfined and unfiltered – and thus, cloudy – mix of barrel-fermented riesling and chardonnay with a distinct citrusy edge. And the crowd favourite, the fizzy, pink-hued Candy Flip pét-nat. (Fun fact: “candy flipping” is taking ecstasy and acid at the same time.)
At the more serious end of the list, elegant expressions of roussanne, syrah, pinot noir and perfume-y cabernet franc abound in Jamsheed’s Harem and Single Vineyard ranges. Mills is thinking about offering tasting flights of different vintages of particular wines, and eventually installing a Coravin vacuum system to serve his most expensive by the glass.
Much, much sooner, Ioreth Tudor of nearby Wolf & Swill will crank up his mobile woodfire oven and start cooking pizza on-site. And maybe a few other things, though he’s keeping the menu to himself for now. Mills and Tudor met years ago in St Andrews, where the former was making wine and the latter was running A Boy Named Sue, one of three renowned pizzerias he co-founded. (The other two are Collingwood’s Lazerpig and Macedon’s Ida Red.) For now, Jamsheed’s food is limited to cheese boards, barbeque corn nuts, guacamole and other simple, no-cook snacks.
Improvements are also planned for the street-level bar, a low-lit, vintage-furniture-filled bolthole (which Mills fitted out for just $1000) that’s entirely separate to the larger warehouse below. He wants to install a pinball machine, a Playstation and Big Buck Hunter to complement the existing free pool table and make good on the promise he made us way back in September 2018: “It’s not going to be a frou-frou cellar door. It’s going be a dive bar.”
Jamsheed Urban Winery
4 Albert Street, Preston
Wed & Thu 5pm–9pm
Fri 5pm–11 pm