Sommelier Amelia Birch’s Famelia is dedicated to showcasing outstanding female winemakers. “We don’t often hear about the blood, sweat and tears that go into a wine’s making,” she says. “But this often makes it even more delicious.”
In her new bar and bottle shop at the Newtown end of Enmore Road, Birch is pouring 12 wines each night – mostly from Australia, some from overseas – by the glass or half-glass as part of a three-, six- or nine-glass tasting flight.
Varietals that are a “bit off the beaten track” are top of the list. Should a guest fall in love with one of the week’s picks, the in-house shop will have a retail-priced bottle to either drink at the bar – with $15 corkage – or take home. “I’ve always loved the idea of drinking something out then taking it home, [but] it’s often prohibited by our licensing laws,” Birch says.
Save 20% when you buy two or more Broadsheet books. Order now to make sure they arrive in time for Christmas.SHOP NOW
Birch has spent years building relationships with winemakers and distributors in the Sydney hospitality scene – first as a waiter at the Hilton's Glass Brasserie, then as owner of Surry Hills cafe Book Kitchen. And, in 2018, she founded Your Personal Sommelier, a wine-delivery service dedicated to approachable wine education.
“Over the years working in wine, I’ve learnt a lot from consumers,” says Birch. “I want a space where people feel comfortable to say they don’t know what they like, or [teach them] how to ask for what they like.”
One highlight on the current list is the 2022 Allevare Cabernet Franc, from producers Lucy Kendall and Alysha Moscat in Gippsland, Victoria. Another is the 2021 Reed Reserve Shiraz from Sierra Reed in Victoria’s Grampians region. “[It’s a] gorgeous, super smooth, silky shiraz that tells an amazing story,” says Birch. “It starts softly, then becomes really salty in the middle, before hitting you with fruit in the back.”
Complementing the wines is a snackable selection of Australian cheeses, meats and dips. Alvia’s Egg Dip, made from a secret recipe by Birch’s grandmother, comes topped with bright pops of caviar. There’s a terrine of rabbit and confit onion, and black-truffle-and-squid-ink salami; plates of each come served with pickled veggies, bread and crackers. On the cheese line-up is a Milawa blue with truffled honey, and vegan Persian macadamia feta with pear.
Birch worked on the fit-out with Sean Virili of design studio Atelier and Alpha. Exposed brick walls backdrop a central island bar topped with rose marble, and furniture popping with burnt orange and aquamarine. Floating shelves line one wall, carrying the bottle shop’s full collection. There’s seating for 25 indoors, which, come spring, will expand onto the footpath outside.