The idea was simple. An informal degustation dinner to recognise four organic wineries in the Hunter Valley, and showcase their wines alongside a simple fair of food and good company. I wanted to promote the idea of wine idealism – wines that recognise their sense of time and place (terroir) in an authentic and honest way – within the context and the history of the Hunter Valley.
What’s In Your Glass? is Newcastle’s first ‘real wine’ fair, and features over 30 different winegrowers from the Hunter Valley, Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, the ACT, NSW, New Zealand, and Europe. It aims to promote natural, organic and biodynamic wines from around the world, with a focus on Australia and New Zealand.
Newcastle and gastronomy aren’t often seen playing together by those outside the city due, in part, to the looming Steel City moniker that it was branded with during the bright, heat hazed days of the thriving BHP Steelworks. BHP has now lain dormant for the last 14 years, but it’s now Newcastle as the largest coal exporting harbour in the world that colours people’s image of the city.
Having grown up in Newcastle, I was oblivious to the natural beauty that surrounds this place; with its abundant beaches such as Mereweather, Bar Beach, Newcastle, and the iconic Nobby’s, all easily accessible within a five minute drive from the CBD. Coupled with this are the expansive park lands, such as King Edward and the paradisal Foreshore that provide generous green space for Novocastrians to relax and play, and stare up at the enormous cloud-filled sky above.
Now, with traveller’s eyes, I am able to recognise, and more importantly, appreciate the luck with which I’ve been blessed with, to have come from such a special place on Earth.
The potential energy that is stored up within the people and streets of Newcastle is so great that all it needs is to be unleashed. Music has been thriving in the city for decades, with many amazing bands, and musicians having played their way through the Cambridge Hotel, the Lucky Country (lest we forget), and other venues, showcasing what incredible musical talent there is lying about the place. Art has always had an outlet with the Newcastle Art Gallery being a stalwart in bringing to town many national and international exhibitions for the city to enjoy, as well as the Watt Space Gallery, which provides an opportunity for young artists to show off their talent to the townsfolk. But the aim has always been to one day get to Sydney.
Sydney is where it all happens, and it’s the closest thing we’ve got to an international mecca. It’s also where most of the wine events seem to happen and, because it’s only 2 hours drive to get there from Newcastle, it’s not really that big of a deal if they are.
More and more Sydney-siders are jumping in their cars to visit us and experience our uniqueness. They’re already moving up here by the car load, making Newcastle one of the fastest growing cities in Australia. It must have something to do with the beautiful beaches and relative lack of traffic that makes Newcastle so appealing. It might also have something to do with the fact that Australia’s oldest wine region is less than an hour away, and if you’re into your wine, then, why wouldn’t you want to come here?!
For this reason, What’s In Your Glass? – the simple degustation dinner – has been established as the first of many wine events to be held in Newcastle in the future. Having now expanded to include over 15 different wine regions throughout the world, all coming to Newcastle to showcase their own versions of wine idealism, What’s In Your Glass? is an event unique to the people of Newcastle, and the Hunter Valley.
Wines from the other side of Australia, including Cloudburst, Si Vintners, and Cullen, have made the trek from W.A. towards the eastern states, and along the way have picked up Ruggabellus, Battle of Bosworth, Ngeringa, Shobbrook, Hahndorf Hill, Cape Jaffa, and Henschke from South Australia. Down in Victoria, Between 5 Bells, Castagna, Avani, and Enigma Variations have been migrating their way towards Newcastle, with Lark Hill from the ACT, A.Retief, and Lowe Wines from NSW all joining them along the way.
In New Zealand, from Gisbourne in the north island, Millton Vineyards, and Crazy By Nature, have made the leap across the ditch, along with Te Whare Ra, from the Marlborough, Pyramid Valley in Waikari, and Rippon from Wanaka in the Central Otago.
And from the other side of the world comes, Veuve Ambal from Burgundy, Domaine Combier, from the Rhone, Domaine Rimauresq from Provence, Domaine Albert Mann from Alsace, making up the French connection, which is travelling alongside, Fontodi from Tuscany, in Italy.
On top of all this, the four Hunter Valley organic and biodynamic winegrowers – Macquariedale, Krinklewood, Tamburlaine, and Harkham – will have their wines showcased at an exclusive 5 course dinner event at Bacchus Restaurant, in Newcastle, with a menu especially prepared for the evening by award winning chefs, Tim Montgomery and Tom Robinson.
What’s In Your Glass? has assembled together the best line up of ‘real wines’ Newcastle has ever seen!
And that’s not all… I’ve already written about our adventure, which has seen 8 bottles of delicious ‘real’ Hunter Valley wine, sunken and aged in the mouth of the Hunter River for 3 months. A genuine first of it’s kind. These bottles will be tasted alongside their land loving counterparts at the Hunter Valley Winegrowers Dinner, which is the first time anyone in the world will get the chance to taste so many different wines, all aged in the ocean, all at the same time.
The fact is, that this simple (degustation dinner) idea has now grown to become something bigger and better than I could have hoped for, and it’s because there are people within the city of Newcastle who do want to unleash it’s burgeoning potential, and see it become a hive of artistic, musical, and cultural creativity. It’s why an event like this has been made possible, through the hard work, creativity, and support of these individuals, and their ideas (or ideals) for the future of Newcastle.
I look forward to raising a glass with you on Sunday the 28th of July, to one of the most beautiful cities in the world!
D// – The Wine Idealist.
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What’s In Your Glass? – Tix Here!