“I think natural wine is nowhere near reaching its peak,” says Brad Lucas, the owner of new bottle shop and bar, Cult of the Vine. “It’s flourishing, and showing no signs of stopping.”
Set in the base of Brunswick’s eco-friendly apartment building, The Commons, the new shop has a broad selection of minimal-intervention, small-vineyard wines from Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Australia, Portugal and Spain.
Lucas earned his stripes working as a sommelier at The Lake House in Daylesford. Being a one-man band means that food is necessarily limited. Snacks are confined to Sicilian olives, artisanal cheeses and charcuterie, and his “signature”: a simple pair of hard-boiled eggs served with a dish of sea salt.
But wine, obviously, is the main event. Unlike other bars, Cult of the Vine has no formal list. Lucas chats with customers, offering drops by the glass based on a guest’s mood, fancy or fixation. “I'm happy to open anything within reason,” he says.
If you’re buying by the bottle, meanwhile, there’s a $10 corkage for anything off the shelf.
Ultimately, Cult of the Vine is about encouraging drinkers to wriggle out of their comfort-zones.
“I think the biggest impediment to the wine industry in this country is that it’s very opaque to ‘outsiders’. It dissuades people from wading in, because they feel like they’re not allowed,” he says. “Natural wine completely alters your perception of what wine can and should be.”
Cult of the Vine
The Commons, 7 Florence Street Brunswick
(03) 9383 1542
Tue & Wed 11am–7pm
Thu to Sun 11am–9pm