The organisers behind Australia’s largest natural-wine festival, Rootstock Sydney, have announced last year’s event was the fifth and final.
The trio cited a number of reasons for the decision, including having achieved their goals in terms of spreading awareness around natural wine, and a lack of ongoing financial support from both industry and government bodies, “despite years of attendance and incredible evolution within the event”, they said in an official statement.
Changes in the natural-wine scene – not all positive – also contributed to the decision.
“As the festival has evolved, so too has the ‘natural-wine’ scene. It has broadened its umbrella, wonderfully, but in some cases nefariously. Philosophically this has led to a discomfort regarding some of the more underhanded elements occurring in natural wine, as marketing potentially overtake its original essence. With an event of this scale, it is difficult to keep all the parties happy (including ourselves).”
The not-for-profit festival – which began in 2013 and was dubbed “wine Christmas” by some – shone a spotlight on the winemaking industry, and organic and sustainable farming principles and practices both in Australia and overseas.
Along with the founders, wine importer De Maria, Bennie (P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants co-owner) and Hird (Icebergs, The Dolphin, among others), the festival was realised with the help of Linda Wiss and Matt Young (both of Black Market Sake), and a large team of volunteers.
“[It was five] absolutely amazing years,” says Hird. “Every year saw different collaborations evolve with a remarkable group of chefs, producers, musicians, artists, authors and journalists ... It’s remarkable over the five editions to see the focus on farming evolve. In particular the public’s understanding and interest in wines without long ingredients lists and thinking of wine as an agricultural product.
“It’s been one hell of a ride. Really looking forward to the next revolution of food and wine festivals. I can’t wait to start work on a new project.”