The team behind Rootstock – Australia’s largest and most interesting sustainable food and wine festival – is taking its winning natural-wine formula to Tokyo this December.

“Tokyo has the biggest international wine market; their population is huge. All the [Rootstock] producers have been exporting to Japan for many, many years, so it made sense,” says Rootstock co-founder Giorgio De Maria about the festival’s decision to go global.

The not-for-profit Rootstock festival began in 2013 as a way to promote organic and sustainable farming principles and practices. It is driven by co-founders De Maria Vini, Mike Bennie (P&V Wine and Liquor Merchants co-owner), James Hird (The Dolphin), and Linda Wiss and Matt Young (both of Black Market Sake fame.

Finding a venue in Tokyo the same size as Carriageworks was a real challenge. “The venue [in Yoyogi village] isn’t huge, so we’ve decided to spread the event across the city,” says De Maria.

As a result, Rootstock has invited wine producers to design lists for 20 of the city’s top wine bars. This way festivalgoers can go from venue to venue trying different varietals.

A “big party” will be held at a yet-to-be-disclosed location. For that, the format will be similar to Sydney’s Rootstock. “It’s pretty much in the centre of Tokyo,” says De Maria, adding: “We’ve got this famous guy doing music, he’s got an incredible collection of records.”

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The wine list on the day will be 60 per cent European and 30 per cent Australian varietals and there will be a pig on the spit and Australian lamb or beef cooked over coals for snacks. “It was important to be able to have an interaction between Australia and Japan. We’ve got at least one or two restaurateurs from Tokyo cooking at the event,” he says. Those chefs will also be coming to Sydney’s Rootstock event in November.

De Maria says that although the popularity of minimal-intervention wine and spirits is growing, education is still an important component of Rootstock. “The word ‘natural’ means nothing. I don’t want to use it because it’s been abused in many ways. If there is a definition [to describe the wine Rootstock promotes], it is ‘fermented grape with nothing else added’. The good wines are made like that, but you can count them on your hand. They are very exciting wines.”

Rootstock Tokyo will be held on December 1 and 2, 2018 at various venues throughout the city.

Rootstock Sydney will be held on November 24 and 25 at Carriageworks in Everleigh.