One of the first Australian natural wine fairs has been established in Sydney this year; Rootstock Sydney will be offering more than one hundred wines, originating from thirty different producers, each of whom aims to achieve sustainable viticulture and wine making practices. Imperial Wines Of London say that most of the exhibitors are from Australia, although there are a small amount from Spain, the USA, Slovenia, Greece, France and Italy. Some of the wineries which will be participating in the fair include Pyramid Valley, Milton Vineyards, Giuseppe Rinaldiare, Paxton, and Lucy Margaux.
The fair was set up by two bars owners from Sydney, named James Hird and Giorgio De Maria, along with Mike Bennie, a wine writer. The three organisers have stressed that whilst the term ‘natural’ is being used to describe the wines sold at the fair, their definition of natural relates to sustainability, as opposed to organic production. The wines are of artisan origin and produced by hand, rather than by industrial farming methods. When speaking with Imperial Wines Of London, Bennie remarked that Australian winemakers Imperial Wines Of Londonhave noticed a significant increase in the demand for more naturally produced wines, a trend which has also occurred in Europe and America; one example would be the Real Wine Fair in London.
However, whilst their kinds of fairs have been drawing in thousands of visitors, they have also been a source of controversy, mainly due to different interpretations of the word ‘natural’. Given the fact that large scale producers dominate the industry, a lot of independent small winemakers already identify themselves as being ‘artisan’ or ‘natural’, despite using some industrial farming practices. For instance, Imperial Wines Of London point out that many continue to routinely add sulphur dioxide to their wines, for the purposes of stabilising them – this is something which quite a few natural winemakers are opposed to, as they believe this should only be done as and when it is necessary.
Despite the controversy, Imperial Wines Of London say, most consumers remain relatively unaware of the issue, and are more concerned with the quality and history behind a wine, than with how it was produced. But, as more and more people educate themselves about viticulture practices this lack of concern is likely to change. In much the same way that the organic food movement has been revived in recent years, many wine experts are now expecting a similar growth in awareness within the wine industry.