If you buy a ticket to the Urban Winery Project, you’ll receive a note recommending you bring a change of clothes. When they say it’s an immersive experience, they mean it.
“People actually get to roll up their trousers and do the Lucille Ball (from American sitcom I Love Lucy) thing and stomp on the grapes. They’ll get to touch them and feel them and smell them … that’s the nature of this event,” says winemaker David Bowley.
It’s the second year Bowley, from South Australia’s Vinteloper, has run the Urban Winery Project in Melbourne (the first three seasons were held in Adelaide). It’s the first year, though, that he’s enlisted some of Melbourne’s top chefs to do the cooking.
Over four nights in March, either Ryan Flaherty (Mister Jennings); Peter Gunn (IDES, ex-Attica); Frank Camorra (MoVida); or Scott Gould (Black Dog BBQ) and Sam and Celeste Gant (Pot & Pan) will create a menu designed to match what you’re drinking – namely, the wine that was made at last year’s Urban Winery Project event.
Because making wine is still the main game, here. “Essentially, it’s a crash course,” says Bowley.
“The room will be set up with actual winemaking stations, so grapes in one place, the barrels, tanks and the basket press in others, and we’ll take you through everything.
“Then, once we’ve loosened everyone up with some food and drink and music, we’re all going to take our shoes off for the grape stomping.”
The grapes (5000 kilograms in total) are mostly shiraz and malbec varieties from premium Victorian vineyards, but Bowley is trying to source some tempranillo grapes for Frank Camorra’s event. He’s also had some pinot gris sent over from his winery in the Adelaide Hills that he already has fermenting on skins, so he can demonstrate orange wine to those who attend week one.
“We want to show off as much of the process as we can,” says Bowley. “It’s kind of dirty, but lots of fun as well. Hopefully by the end of the night we’ll have convinced you to come back next year to try the wine you’ve just helped to make.”
Like last year, the event is being curated by Pot & Pan Culinary Tailors, and will be held at the Gather & Tailor warehouse in West Melbourne.
Gather & Tailor Warehouse
4/41–59 Sims Street, West Melbourne
March 2: Ryan Flaherty
March 9: Peter Gunn
March 16: Frank Camorra
March 23: Scott Gould with Sam and Celeste Gant
Tickets are available via urbanwineryproject.com.