Wine: Baptism of Fire

A competition like no other, Wine: Baptism of Fire is running for the second year in 2014, taking six teams of first-time winemakers and pitting them against each other, and against the harsh realities of making and releasing a wine.

The competition kicked off in mid-April, the start of the 2014 harvest, and will conclude at the end of bottling in October. The six teams of finalists come from a variety of backgrounds, but they all share the same dream of making their own wine. Some very familiar faces make up the eclectic mix of passionate wine noobies:

Timo Mayer, Ricky Sam and Michael Smith are a pair of young bloggers in for a wild ride. Ricky, aka forksake (a regular GRAM contributor), is the food blogger and Michael, aka jackofalltrends, is the fashion blogger.
Winemaking at Mac Forbes winery, with shiraz from Thousand Candles.

You might recognise Meg Power and Jacqueline Turner from Bellota wine bar, or from Rootstock Sydney – they were the ones wearing lobsters and plastic fruit on their heads. If you do, you’ll know these girls are ‘always-on’.
Winemaking at Mac Forbes winery, with shiraz from Thousand Candles.

Kiwi-born Rockpool sommelier, Wiremu Andrews, and Jess Ho (ex Chin Chin maître d’, girl about town and writer for hire) are being mentored by Sarah Fagan. There’s a competition within this year’s competition: Sarah Fagan and Steve Webber, colleagues at De Bortoli, are leading opposing teams.
Winemaking at/with shiraz from De Bortoli.

How far do the skills of coffee roasting translate to winemaking? We’ll soon find out. St Ali partners, Salvatore Malatesta and Matt Perger are under the wings of the winemaking guru, Steve Webber. Webber is a real winemaker’s winemaker, but how will the pairing with coffee roasters go?
Winemaking at/with shiraz from De Bortoli.

Gilles Lapalus’ team of industry “outsiders” won the inaugural BOF competition in 2013. This year, Gilles has some of the biggest names in the wine bar game, with Sydney’s Matt Swieboda (Love Tilly Devine) and James Hird (chef and owner, Wine Library) on his side.
Winemaking at Bindi with shiraz from Mount Langi Ghiran.

Take one winemaker from New Zealand whose winery is next to a zoo, Matt Harrop. Combine with Sheridan Wright, a publishing gun for hire and accidental urban socialite. Add in Chris Hysted, a cocktologist and Ketel One brand ambassador.
Winemaking at Bindi with shiraz from Mount Langi Ghiran.

As well as receiving assistance with the wine making process, the groups partnered with design experts from Alquimie, Ultra Studio, Andrew Ashton, Salmon Design, Ortolan and Tin & Ed to develop their packaging.

The teams will offer a preview of the wines on August 4, 2014 at Melbourne’s iconic Savoy Tavern. Industry experts and consumers will meet the team members, taste their wines, and bid at auction to receive the packaged product, which is due for release in October.

The auctioneers for the showcase event will be Langton’s Co-Founder, and Associate Producer of feature documentary Red Obsession, Andrew Caillard MW; and founder of Public Relations Agency, Liquid Ideas, and regular commentator on The Project and Gruen Planet, Stuart Gregor.

The auction’s results, in conjunction with the votes from a panel of judges chaired by Rory Kent, will determine the winning team.

Part of the proceeds of all the wine sales will be donated to SecondBite.

Renegade Films captured the contestants’ adventures and will broadcast a series of webisodes, aimed at people who are curious about wine.

Wine: Baptism of Fire
Preview Tasting & En Primeur Auction
Savoy Tavern, cnr Bourke and Spencer streets, Melbourne
Monday, 4 August 2014
Trade event: 3-4pm tasting, 4-5pm auction.
Free entry for trade, bookings essential.
Consumer event: 6-7pm tasting, 7-8pm auction.
Tickets $10, via

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