By Marc Llewellyn
Hold on to your glasses, The Fruitful Pursuit is set to become a full-bodied wine tasting highlight.
There are few things that can cause as much anticipation as the pop of a cork or the twist of a screw cap, particularly if it promises a quality drop.
But as well as a pleasing bouquet, your nose might detect the scent of revolution in the air too, in terms of grape varieties, winemaking styles and even the winery experience.
Lapping it all up is James Hopkins, the man behind The Fruitful Pursuit wine tours.
These tours include in-depth visits to ‘renegade’ wine makers responsible for small-batch, organic, biodynamic and minimal intervention wines.
Many of them use grape varieties that are less well known in Australia, like Montepulciano, Aglianico and Nero d’Avola.
They also make single variety wines from grapes like Grenache, which have been predominantly used as blending components in Australia.
These winemakers represent an insurgence of South Australian craftsmen making ‘drink-now’ styles, Hopkins says.
“People are doing little to it, letting it go through its process without additives, letting the fruit speak for itself.
“It’s a revolution in a way. It’s not necessarily revolting against what has been established, it’s more about opening the doorway to other ways of proving something.”
The idea for wine tours that featured producers like these started off around 18 months ago.
Boozy mini-bus tours passe
“We realised that the boozy party tour wine bus has become quite obsolete for the younger generation,” Hopkins says.
“Cellar door experiences have been the same for quite some time, and with the shifts in wine appreciation and the styles of craftsmanship there’s been a calling for people to connect at a much more intimate level with wine.”
The Fruitful Pursuit started as a closed Facebook group, and soon grew to around 500 wine buffs.
“We’ve run around 20 tours for this closed group, and have many more on the cards,” Hopkins continues.
“Initially we were very savvy and eagre wine drinkers who were very passionate about our local produce. So we decided to scratch at the surface of the wine industry a little bit deeper than what the standard wine tour would offer I guess.
“We meet the winemakers, take a peek inside the cellar, walk through the vines, and get a much more educational and in depth experience.”
Demand for the tours grew so much that The Fruitful Pursuit launched as a wine tour company for the general public at a two-day ‘wine playground’ at Fall from Grace, in Aldinga, in May.
The event featured 24 winemakers, as well as cheese tasting and other tasting opportunities.
It was part of Tasting Australia, one of Australia’s most anticipated culinary festivals.
Due to the success of the May event the team are planning a follow up event in Spring with a plan to bring the playground to the city.
Hopkins is excited about the venture and is adamant that the magic of the Aldinga event will be recreated in the CBD, although he is secretive of the detail.
“All will be revealed shortly,” quips Hopkins.