Almost 12 months ago, in London, there were two ‘rival’ wine fairs held on the same weekend, both singing from the exact same hymn sheet about natural, organic and bio-dynamic wines. Both promoted artisan winegrowers from all over the world, from the unaware stalwarts of Italy and France, who have been practicing sustainable wine making as a matter of tradition and course for centuries, to the ‘future makers’ of Australia and New Zealand, all too aware of the spectral threat of climate change and the inevitable effects it will have on viticulture there.
Fast forward 12 months to the present day, and it would appear as though that inquiry and enthusiasm has spread all the way to the other side of the world, to Sydney, and the first ever natural wine fair, known as the Rootstock Sustainable and Artisan Wine and Food Festival.
Taking cues from their British forerunners, principal organisers Giorgio De Maria, Mike Bennie, and James Hird have organised an event which gives some of the best winegrowers from around the world the chance to exhibit and talk about their wines to a largely unfamiliar Australian audience.
Rootstock has assembled together over 30 producers from Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, Spain, Slovenia, Greece, South Africa, the US, and even Japan. Those attending will have the chance to meet, talk and taste with these artisans from all around the world, and hopefully learn that natural wine need not be so divisive.
There will be a Marketplace, which is free to enter, showcasing food and drink stalls operated by local producers, growers and chefs, as well as music and art performances, including an interesting concept called “Sounding Terroir” a five layered musical composition that supposedly will “challenge the orthodoxy of terroir, and to deeply extend the drinking experience of one wine, from one place, in one year.” I am intrigued.
As part of the Rootstock Festival, there will be a number of Masterclasses held throughout the day, ranging from topics such as Sustainable Food, Cheese & Wine; Beer & Sake, to wine producers and writers discussing Sustainability, Biodynamics and Grape Growing – each Masterclass will be hosted by prominent figures within the food and wine world, including international winegrowers, Dario Princic, and Stanko Radikon from Friuli, Italy; as well as Max Allen, leading sustainable wine writer and journalist, and local wine bar owners and sommeliers Stu Knox of Fix St.James, and Matt Swiedboda from Love Tilly Devine.
The day promises to be a fun and exciting chance to discover, learn and imbibe some of the best sustainable wines Australia and New Zealand has to offer, right alongside international traditionalists from France, Italy and Spain, as well as a fascinating insight into the lesser known wine making regions of the world.
I am so pleased that an event like this is happening here in Australia. It is a opportunity for all real Australian and New Zealand winegrowers to finally showcase their passion and talent for wine making to the public. Hopefully, it will increase awareness of the need for more sustainable practices in viticulture in order for the industry to be able to continue, and thrive long into the future.
At the very least, I hope that this event will get more people drinking more real wines.
D// – The Wine Idealist.
Rootstock Sustainable and Artisan Wine and Food Festival will be held in The Italian Forum and Piazza, Leichhardt, Sydney, on Sunday the 17th of February from 10am – 5pm.