This week in Natural November we are covering Rootstock Sydney, the unique, collaborative, not-for-profit sustainable food & wine festival being held in Sydney this weekend (28/29 November).
Rootstock Sydney is co-directed by its co-founders, Giorgio de Maria, James Hird and Mike Bennie.
So, what better way to learn about it than an interview with Mike Bennie, not only a founding member of Rootstock, but also one of the awesome Wine Front trio.
We've also included a substantial wineochart this week. Our biggest ever! You can see this in the app by pressing the below button to see a huge selection of wine reviews from the artisans attending the festival. There are some absolute beauties.
Mike Bennie on Rootstock.
Why have a wine festival like Rootstock Sydney?
"We wanted a festival that was fun but also educational, and had an agenda and message. We wanted to help people explore the broad church of natural wine but also to anchor it into the context of food, produce, farming, sustainability and an overarching exploration of process and provenance in things you consume.
It’s aim is to be fun, educate and create awareness, light bulb moments and to engage people directly with people who grow and make things. We’re trying to let producers tell their own stories about process and provenance of winemaking and winegrowing, but showing that this umbrella concept of natural wine is more of a curve along which people are at varied points.
In the end, the wine festival component of the festival aims to tell the story of organic and biodynamically farmed vineyards producing beautiful fruit that makes its way to bottle as wine, with as minimal interference and additives as possible. Like visiting a farmer’s market or shopping for organic produce for home, wine should match this in consumer’s purchasing decisions, or be a consideration. The festival isn’t all about wine though…"
What's fresh & new this year?
"So many new things!
The Indigenous produce and farming pavilion working hand-in-hand with Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu), the Yuin people (an indigenous community from the South Coast), indigenous produce, indigenous dishes.
Raw cheese and artisan cheese pavilion that focuses solely on producers who have their own dairy herd and produce cheese paddock to plate.
An extraordinary collaborative coffee pavilion that brings together some of Australia’s best roasters, single origin sourcers and baristas.
Talks that defy the usual classroom style podium set up and are unique for their topics.
New producers attending include luminaries of natural wine in Europe including Thierry Puzelat, Jean Foillard, Matassa, Christian Tschida alongside a host of exciting producers from all over the world.
More Australian and NZ producers are attending too. We’re pleased to have Belgrove (one of three paddock to bottle whisky distillers in the world, from Tasmania) and the extraordinary Cazottes eau de vies being showcases by their distillers.
Magnus Nilsson from lauded Faviken restaurant (Sweden) is a real coup for our breakfast event on the Saturday 28th – it’s a very neat fit considering Nilsson’s over-arching philosophies on food and produce.
There are so many moving parts to Rootstock Sydney; it’s two amazing days of activities."
What else goes on at Rootstock Sydney in 2015?
"I think it’s important to mention that there’s a huge farmer-chef collaboration in our markets. This runs for both days and is free to explore.
Visitors can walk straight into Rootstock Sydney and begin engaging with farmer-producers and chefs for free.
You can shop at the markets like traditional markets, but chefs are alongside with dishes and advice on the produce.
The markets are the crux and centre of the festival and pavilions, the wine festival sessions and the talk sessions are built around this. There is so much more than wine at RS15.
Bars of course return to Rootstock with wine, beer and drinks available all day – the orange wine bar and the sake bar return alongside a natural-ferment, sour beer bar. And of course Young Henry’s and Birra del Borgo/Nomad are alongside with their brews."
What is the Rootstock interpretation of natural wine?
"We have a manifesto which asks for producers to be producing wines in a certain way.
Organic or biodynamic farming, certified or not, and no additions in winemaking aside a low level of sulphur, if needed.
We don’t assess producers, we curate them based on working with them in Sydney and on reputation/conversations or first hand experience with producers in regards to their farming and winemaking.
Producers are given the opportunity to transparently offer up information on their vineyards, vineyard sources and winemaking, which is available online on our website for people to engage with to gain a better understanding of each producer and how their wines make their way to bottle.
The producers attending Rootstock Sydney are intrinsically involved in the local Sydney scene, have relationships with the co-founders of Rootstock Sydney, or come via recommendation from existing artisans attending. RS tastes new wines, and engages with new producers regularly to ensure a dynamic occurs at the festival.
We rely on producers’ honesty and transparency, and then let them tell their story of farming, winemaking and their understanding of natural wine.
In the end it is their story to tell, we are just a platform to help artisans engage with an excited and curious consumer base."
All the Info.
Where & When.
Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, next weekend (28/29 November).
Six different pavilions. So much to do!
Saturday 28/11 from 1PM - 9PM.
Sunday 29/11 from 10AM - 5PM.
Closing Party from 5PM - 10PM.
The Wine Festival.
Four ticketed sessions. A rare opportunity to meet aspiring & exceptional artisans & growers. All wine producers will attend and their wines are available to taste.
A fantastic series of talks covering a diverse range of topics around food, wine & agriculture.
There's plenty more. For all the info you need, press here.