The story of the project
Urban Winery Sydney is more than just a winery.
It is Australia’s only truly city-based winery: a place to make, ferment, mature, love, savour, taste and take home the best of local wines.
Home to award-winning A.Retief Wines, which processes 50 tonne (5000 dozen) of NSW cool-climate grapes every year. But it’s not all about A.Retief – in the place of a traditional cellar door, there is a wine bar stocking the very best of wines from NSW’s 14 wine regions.
It’s place for locals, tourists, for people who know about wine and people who want to learn – simply, it’s for everyone.
Drop in to try the wine, and also local cheese and charcuterie. And perhaps more.
What’s the key point of difference with this idea? A fully working winery slap-bang in the city, which allows people to get their hands dirty, or sit back and watch others do it. It’s a way to grow a brand, a new type of wine experience, and promote NSW wines.
Why an Urban Winery?
In 2013 I started a very small Urban Ferment in Bourke St Bakery, Potts Point. It was only half a tonne of grapes fermenting using the natural yeast from the bakery, with customers encouraged to mix, plunge and be a part of the project.
The Australian article
The first year we had about 25 people come along for the ‘pressing party’, where we pressed the grapes using a small basket press to fill a barrel. 9 months later, at the ‘bottling party’, that 25 had doubled to 50.
Three vintages later we had just under 100 people all wanting to be a part of the experience, including press and I was approached by Nomad Restaurant Surry Hills to ferment a batch there as well.
Sydney Morning Herald article
What all of these projects really proved to me is that people want to learn more about wine, they want to be a part of the process and feel an ownership of something, but most importantly, they want to feel part of a community.
How the funds will be used
Setting up this winery has been an expensive operation! We’re almost there and further funds will make the first six months a lot easier.
The funds will be used to:
– pay part-time cellar door staff to allow more flexible opening hours for wine tasting and learning about wine tasting.
– fit out. The winery equipment is completely paid for and installed, we want to make this space look great – somewhere you want to spend time. We’re close but lighting and soft seating are two aspects that we’d like to do more with – to make your winery experience more comfortable -and money raised will go straight to this.
Some of my other work
My name is Alex Retief and I started A.Retief wines, my own boutique wine label, in 2008. Before that, I had worked as a winemaker for eight years in the Hunter Valley, France’s Bordeaux and Languedoc regions, the Sonoma Valley in the US and Spain’s Rioja region and notched up a degree from Wagga’s Charles Sturt University in winemaking.
My wines are about bringing out the best in the vineyards to the bottle. The grapes for the A.Retief label come from the cool-climate NSW regions of Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Gundagai. After eight years, the wines are now widely available in restaurants and independent retailers throughout NSW, including top Sydney restaurants Rockpool, Quay, ARIA and Guillaume. Wine critics James Halliday, Mike Bennie, Max Allen, Peter Bourne and Huon Hooke all regularly review the wines and have rated them highly (at different times!).
In 2013, I was one of 12 wine industry types selected for the prestigious Len Evans Tutorial where you spend a week immersed tasting some of the world’s best wines to become a better wine maker, and hopefully, wine judge. I have judged in NSW shows and have previously sat on the NSW wine committee and its promotions offshoot.
For the last seven years I have been renting space in other people’s wineries and I am now taking the plunge to build my own, in the middle of St Peters, Sydney!
Now, the REAL challenge will be getting as many people as possible to visit and be a part of the Urban Winery experience. I know that once people visit, they will come back for more.
This may be a first for Sydney but the concept is not entirely new. There are a number of wineries in cities around the states, like Enso in Portland and Bluxhome winery in San Francisco that are seriously popular places and make terrific wine.
This didn’t occur over night and your support will help with the all important marketing and promotion of the winery as one of Sydney’s must do venues.
Everyone who pledges their support will become a member of the Urban Winery, keeping you up to date with progress, news, plans and special offers. We want you to be a part of our project and for you to feel proud and excited to welcome your friends and family to the winery, which you helped establish.
Beyond that, running a winery is not the simplest day job, so I have assembled a team of business heads to advise us and nudge me in the right direction.
You must be over 18 year of age to enjoy the fruits of Urban Winery Sydney (otherwise it’s just grape juice)!
Liquor Licence LIQP770010174