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Aussie winemaking event to debut in Asia

March 31, 2018 Headline News No Comments Email Email

A unique Australian wine dinner that invites guests to stomp grapes and make wine will be held in Asia for the first time this weekend.

South Australian winemaker David Bowley is taking his Urban Winery Project to Singapore after sell-out events in Sydney and Melbourne.

Almost a metric tonne of freshly picked Sauvignon Blanc grapes will be flown from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia to Singapore this week ahead of the inaugural international events on Friday and Saturday nights (March 23 & 24), which are presented by small batch wine club, WineMasons.

Vinteloper winery owner David Bowley began the Urban Winery Project in Australia’s wine capital Adelaide in 2012 with small city winemaking events at a number of venues over three vintages.

In 2015 and 2016 Bowley hosted a number of events in Melbourne and took the project to Sydney in 2017 and again last month. UWP now produces about 6000 bottles of wine at the events a year, much of which is sold back to attendees a year later.

“We’ve always tried to push the boundaries with this event and this is the ultimate – we’re airfreighting grapes handpicked in the Adelaide Hills to Singapore, meeting them on the ground and taking them to a space in one of the more cosmopolitan cities in the Asia Pacific and asking people to come and make wine with us,” Bowley says.

“When we first started doing it seven years ago I wasn’t aware of anyone doing it in Australia at that time and since then others have joined the party so to speak but I don’t think anyone really does it like us.”

“The other urban wineries around Australia are permanent fixtures, ours is more of a festival style where we do it once a year in different locations with a big focus on the food aspect.”

At a typical night, guests are invited to inspect, taste, and de-stem the fresh wine grapes. They then stomp on the grapes to extract juice and basket press pre-fermented fruit.

The events are typically attended by an even split of men and women in their 30s but Bowley says the ladies are usually keener to kick off their shoes and crush the grapes.

“Also, while they are eating their main course they are served the Urban Winery Project wine that was made 12 months before so in one night they get to see a wine in three or four different stages of its life cycle,” he says.

The Sauvignon Blanc grapes heading to Singapore have been sourced from Lenswood, one of the highest parts of the Adelaide Hills in South Australia, and are expected to produce between 900 and 1000 bottles of wine.

The Adelaide Hills, about 30km east of the South Australian capital of Adelaide, is fast cementing itself internationally as a leading cool climate region and is also known for its clean green produce such as fruit, vegetables and cheese.

Attendees at the $140-a-head winemaking dinner will also be served Vinteloper wines and will have the first option to buy the wine they help make when it is released in 12 months time.

“When you can offer that to people it really does close the loop in terms of understanding what goes in to making a bottle of wine,” Bowley says.

“One of the main motivations for starting the Urban Winery Project in the first place was to pull back the curtain and let people see.

“By coming to this event we hope that every glass of wine people have from then on tastes a little bit better because they’ve seen what goes into it, they’ve experienced it, they’ve touched it and I think that’s a really powerful message.”

Chef Duncan of the Frank Food Company, which also distributes Vinteloper wines in Singapore, will curate the three-course meal.

Bowley owns vineyards across the Adelaide Hills and also sources grapes from other growers in the famous South Australian wine areas of the Clare Valley and Langhorne Creek.

He sold his first 200 cases of wine in 2008 and now produces about 7000 cases a year in small batches across the Vinteloper and Urban Winery Project brands

Vinteloper wines are sold around Australia and in about eight countries including the United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and New Zealand.

“We try to keep some of the Urban Winery Project wine to sell as well – we want the story to spread so we export a bit to the UK, US, Japan and New Zealand, they’re all small allocations but they all get a little bit because it’s a great part of the story.”

A small amount of the Urban Winery Project wine is also served in restaurants in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Vinteloper’s flagship wine is its Pinot Noir, which has developed somewhat of a cult following in Australia through its popularity the travelling Pinot Palooza festival.

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