“Rootstock Sydney's great success in 2013 was its inclusiveness – it was totally without snobbery or expectation of knowledge, it was great fun and easy to enjoy,” says Mike Bennie, one of the minds behind Rootstock Sydney, talking about last year's festival.
This year, Rootstock Sydney aims to be bigger and better; it has extended to two days and has moved to a larger venue at Carriageworks. The wine showcase will be held over three sessions and will feature 200 Australian and international wines presented by 60 leading winemakers, with a focus on artisan, organic and biodynamic drops. The weekend will also offer wine, food and coffee masterclasses, a produce market, performances, an orange-wine bar and a sake bar.
Rootstock Sydney is the brainchild of five Sydney wine aficionados – the aforementioned Mike Bennie, wine writer for Australian Gourmet Traveller WINE and website The Wine Front; Giorgio de Maria, owner and sommelier of 121BC; James Hird of restaurants Wine Library and Vincent; and sake importers Matt Young and Linda Wiss of Black Market Sake.
As Bennie explains, “the five of us decided that a celebration of the things we love – quality produce, natural wines and good times – was in order, and we wanted to collaborate on a festival that would showcase these things.”
One of the big draws is the masterclasses, which this year will include not just wine, but food, beer and coffee. American wine journalist Alice Feiring and Italian musician and wine enthusiast Giovanni Bietti will talk about natural wines. Chef Kylie Kwong will speak about cooking with native Australian foods. Coffee also gets a look in – sip it and talk about it with the crew from Rueben Hills, Mecca Espresso and La Soledad. Brewers Birra del Borgo and purveyors of Newtown's ale of choice, Young Henrys (who have brewed a beer specifically for Rootstock Sydney using old wine barrels to mature the ale), will also host masterclasses.
The Rootstock marketplace will be held on Sunday, offering the chance to sample and take home bread, meats, cheese, seafood, vegetable and dairy products from producers in Sydney and regional NSW. Leading chefs will also be working with the produce, creating tasty dishes to sample.
On Saturday and Sunday nights the night festival will feature a wealth of heavy-hitting kitchen talent who will be cooking dishes based around their favourite wine. Chefs such as Luke Powell and Daniel Pepperell (10 William St), Mitch Orr (121BC), Kylie Kwong (Billy Kwong, Pasi Petanen (Cafe Paci) and Clayton Wells (Momofuku Seiobo), plus a host of others, will be in attendance, allowing festivalgoers to create their own dining and drinking experience by visiting different stalls throughout the evening. The festival's orange-wine bar (featuring funky, extended skin-contact white wines of orange hues) will also reappear this year, in addition to a new sake bar where Japan's favourite tipple will be poured.
Rootstock Sydney will be held on February 8–9 at Carriageworks and tickets are on sale now. For tickets and the full schedule of events, visit: rootstocksydney.com