Have you ever wondered about the winemaking process? What happens between crushing the grapes and pouring a glass of wine?
For seven years, David Bowley of South Australia’s Vinteloper vineyard has run the Urban Winery Project, a pop-up where guests are invited to join in the winemaking process.
For the second year in a row, the event is visiting Rosebery’s Three Blue Ducks at The Cannery to deliver an immersive food and wine experience. Previous events have been held in Melbourne and Adelaide.
“People are actively encouraged to take off their shoes, roll up their pants and their sleeves, jump in these bins and actually stomp grapes,” Bowley says. “You know that Lucille Ball moment from I Love Lucy? – that’s what we’re going for.”
Grapes, fermenters, barrels and basket pressers will travel from Vinteloper in Adelaide to Sydney, where event-goers can get into the grape-to-glass winemaking experience on one of two nights this month.
“Making wine definitely takes time and in that time there are critical control points,” Bowley says. “We try to take those moments and make them happen within two to three hours and then the rest of it we take back to the winery and we deal with it there.”
As well as fresh grapes the team also brings fermented fruit that has been prepared earlier.
“Essentially, [they’re the] same grapes as what’s just been stomped on, but fast-forwarded a week or two, after the fermentation has been completed,” Bowley says. “[Participants] get to taste the grapes before they crush them, they can taste the juice after they’ve crushed them … and then they can taste the wine straight out of the press – so it’s all the same stuff in three different stages, on the same night.”
The fourth stage of the process is sitting down to dinner and drinking the wine made at last year’s event.
The process involves two fermenters. Each one holds 500 to 600 kilograms of grapes, producing four barrels of wine. Shortly after the Sydney event, the Urban Wine Project will also appear at the Cellar Door Fest in Adelaide where it will produce six more barrels. In total, around 3000 litres will be made over the two events. That’s about 3000 bottles.
The team keeps a list of all participant’s names, to use on the labels. “We print one person’s name on each bottle,” Bowley says. “There were about 300 people that came last year, so of the 3000 bottles, each person’s name is on about 10 bottles. It’s a nice touch – people love that.”
Past participants have made shiraz because it’s well known.
“Then we usually try and bring in an alternative variety as well,” Bowley says. “I don’t know what it’s going to be just yet. We’ve got to see how the vineyard develops over the next three weeks, but in the past we’ve used tempranillo and malbec.”
Chef Andy Allen of Three Blue Ducks will cook four courses over an open grill. The meals will be matched to two of the wines that were made at the event last year; they will also be officially launched on the night.
“We’re expecting a lot of the same people to come back so they can try the shiraz and tempranillo [made] last year, and hopefully find a bottle with their name on it.”