Australian Financial Review: Inkwell Winery opens Hotel California Road, a cellar door with a difference

When Dr Irina Santiago-Brown and her husband, Dudley Brown, started thinking about building a tasting room and boutique hotel at their Inkwell vineyard in South Australia's McLaren Vale, they knew it would have to set a new standard in sustainability.

Irina is one of Australia's leading experts in sustainability in viticulture. She was instrumental in developing McLaren Vale's Sustainable Australia Winegrowing program, and the Inkwell vineyard is certified organic. Any hotel and cellar door on the property, then, was always going to be as green as possible.

A couple of years ago, laid up after knee surgery and chomping painkillers, Dudley started thinking about using old shipping containers as building blocks for the project – the ultimate in upcycling. He realised that containers were the same proportion as Lego blocks, so he began stacking the colourful bricks on top of each other, giving his vision form.

"Dudley and Endone pills designed it," says Irina. "He sent his Lego model to a bunch of engineers and asked them: is this doable? He kept hassling them until they agreed to do it to get rid of him."

Last month, the Browns opened their tasting room and exclusive three-room accommodation. Not only is it made from 21 shipping containers, but it also basks in sustainability cred: much of the interior is crafted from recycled and repurposed materials (the tasting area is furnished with mid-20th century German school chairs; the tables are fashioned from old Japanese kimono-cutting tables), and the whole place is, in effect, off-grid for both power and water.

Coming up with a name for the new development was easy. Since establishing the Inkwell label more than a decade ago, Dudley has splashed his love of music all over the business, naming his wines after songs, albums or genres: the Inkwell viognier is called "Blonde on Blonde", the primitivo "Infidels" (Dudley's a Dylan fan, obviously); Inkwell's experimental label is called "Dub Style". And the vineyard is located on California Road.

There was only ever one option, really: welcome to the Hotel California Road. Such a lovely place.

There's more than just a consideration for environmental sustainability at work here: for Irina and Dudley, developing the tasting room particularly is also about the long-term viability of the business.

"It was not sustainable for us not to do this," says Irina. "We are a small wine business. We need cash flow. We need to sell wine. Building this means we are able to do that in the way that we want to do it."

A key to the experience at Hotel California Road is timed tastings: every 20 minutes during the day, Dudley or Irina will take visitors through the line-up of Inkwell wines, telling the stories of each one, giving people a good understanding of the background, growing and winemaking.

"It's something we saw at Rippon winery in Central Otago," says Dudley. "We got to visit loads of cellar doors on Irina's research trips through California, South Africa, New Zealand. We really liked how it focused attention on the wines, rather than just being a free-for-all at the tasting bench. It's about providing a greater experience for fewer people."

This approach fits, too, with the couple's business philosophy.

"We don't make much wine," says Dudley, smiling. "We worked out four or five years ago that all we have to do is find the 5000 people in the world who love our wines, and everything will be fine. Now, with the Hotel California Road, we have three rooms. That's 1100 nights a year we've got people here who we hope will love our wines. We're set."

3 tastings at the Hotel California Road

2017 Dub Style Tangerine Viognier [McLaren Vale]

Viognier comes in all shapes and sizes at Inkwell: as a "straight" dry white; fizzy and preservative-free in a can; and in this lovely manifestation as a rich and textural, amber-coloured wine, fermented on skins, with a beautiful flow of silkiness on the tongue. Dub Style is Dudley and Irina's label for wines that are a bit more out there than the "regular" Inkwell bottlings, or for wines made from grapes grown by other people. $26

2016 Inkwell Infidels Primitivo [McLaren Vale]

The red primitivo grape – aka zinfandel – can be a tricky beast. It needs to be picked fully ripe to avoid any tart, green characters, but not so ripe that it makes a porty, gloopy wine. This is an excellent example of a primitivo that was picked in the Goldilocks zone: intense black fruit and spice flavours, plenty of weight and chewy oomph in the mouth, but medium-bodied, balanced and moreish. $30

2015 Dub Style No. 3 Grenache [McLaren Vale]

Made from grapes sourced from an 89-year-old block of bush vines in Bethany, fermented with 100 per cent whole bunches, and an absolutely delicious illustration of why some people describe good grenache as "warm-climate pinot noir": translucent aromas of succulent red berries, open-textured sappy characters, and super-fine tannins. It has benefited, too, from a couple of extra years in bottle (most wineries are selling 2017 grenache at the moment). $35

inkwellwines.com

by Max Allen

Published: 19 June 2018

Link to the original publication: https://www.afr.com/lifestyle/food-and-wine/wine-and-spirits/inkwell-winery-opens-hotel-california-road-a-cellar-door-with-a-difference-20180613-h11cne

Inkwell Wines Opens Tasting Rooms and the Hotel California Road

IMG_2368.JPG

Dudley and Irina (and Daisy) are excited to announce that the Inkwell Wines Tasting Rooms and the luxury micro-Hotel California Road will open on 23 May 2018. Built from 20 recycled shipping containers, the two story building with huge vineyard views from every room sets a new benchmark in sustainable wine tourism in Australia.

The Inkwell tasting rooms have four different areas to enjoy - public and private areas both indoor and outdoor with multiple menus of wines to taste from as well as a rooftop observation deck with views from Mt. Lofty to the tip of the Fleurieu Peninsula.

Located on a seperate and private lower level, the Hotel California Road has three large and luxurious king suites featuring soaking tubs with vineyard views, floating king beds, dual vanities and rain showers, minibars stocked with wine from Inkwell's organic vineyard and amazing HDTV and sound systems.

Opening hours: Tasting Rooms Wednesday to Sunday 10am - 5pm, Hotel California Road open seven days a week. Book here.

We hope to see you soon!

Cheers,

Dudley and Irina

 

The grape debate: Setting the record straight on natural wine

Natural wine.png

 

  • by CALLAN BOYS  May 15 2018 at 12:00 AM, published in GOODFOOD

Why has there been such a significant rise the popularity of natural wine? And how does the conventional wine industry respond to this growing thirst?

Forget the comeback of chardonnay or the rise of brosé, the biggest wine trend of the past 10 years has been around so called natural wine. Although natural wine is a very small fraction of Australia's total wine production, conversations surrounding this new (but actually very old) frontier of wine are myriad in newspapers, bottle shops, restaurants, pubs and wine fairs around the country. And the noise is not dying. If anything, it is getting louder.

...

Dr Irina Santiago-Brown: At my winery we make what a lot of what people call natural wine.However, we don't call ourselves natural winemakers. We simply make wine fermented with no commercial yeasts and we don't correct our wines with additives. I'm a bit conflicted with the label natural wine. I think wine is wine and you are either able or unable to make a good one.

...

Dr Irina Santiago-Brown: Are all natural wines made from organic or biodynamic grapes? No, but they should be. Perhaps there should be, unfortunately, an industry standard for natural winemaking.

...

Dr Irina-Santiago Brown: I'm not a fan of faulty wines in general, but I accept the idea that a lot of people, especially younger drinkers, start to drink these wines because they're more connected with sour tastes or because they're beer drinkers. And sometimes when pairing with food they can work beautifully.

Read full article from the link: https://www.goodfood.com.au/drinks/wine/setting-the-record-straight-on-natural-wine-20180511-h0zxig.html

 

Inkwell Donates 6 Tonnes of Shiraz Grapes to the Homeless Grapes Project

 Volunteer pickers after hand harvesting

Volunteer pickers after hand harvesting

Almost 200 volunteers, including lots of local children,  picked 6 tonnes of perfectly ripe Shiraz grapes grown and donated by Dudley Brown and Irina Santiago-Brown from Inkwell Wines.  The grapes will be used to produce wine to raise money to support the homeless from Hutt Street Centre.  Wines will be sold by Vinomofo.  Please go to their website and register to buy your case to help to support the Hutt Street Centre!

 

 

Being Wild in Wine at Inkwell

 A Shiraz ferment at Inkwell

A Shiraz ferment at Inkwell

Making wine as naturally as possible matters. A lot. 

In a project on wild yeast genetics in wineries, the Australian Wine Research Institute recently identified an entirely different species of yeast finishing Inkwell's ferments than in most of the wine world.  

Not a different strain of saccharomyces cerevisiae (as might be anticipated), but a different species believed to be 300 to 700 million years older than typical wine and bread yeasts. The researchers seem as excited and curious as we are about this. Since this different species turned up in replicates of two different Inkwell Shiraz ferments, they are pretty certain it wasn't a sample or testing error.

It probably isn't a coincidence that incredibly unique events like this happen in an environment where wine grapes are respectfully grown in a sustainable vineyard and fermented naturally on site without synthetic additions. Irina and I will be working closely with AWRI this coming vintage to learn more about what exactly is cooking in our kitchen. But, we may never know why.

So, the next person who tells you all this wine talk about terroir is guff, tell them about this. We all have a lot to learn apparently - even the experts who say this isn't how it works! :) 

If you want to taste the difference for yourself, click here.

 

Andrew Graham reveals "More Bargains from Inkwell: the Dub Style No. 1 Mataro 2015

Dubsty Mataro no.1_black copy.jpg

Dudley and Irina are pumping out value bangers at Inkwell lately, and this single vineyard Mataro is on point. Oh and Mataro, from McLaren Vale? Not Mourvedre? Is this a thing now?

Purple red coloured and swimming with purple fruit. Generous and pulpy and just a little warm. But what breadth and stature! This really fills your mouth with black jube fruit, plus anise, fudge, coffee chocolate and late, drying tannins. All of the Mataro/Mourvedre/Monastrell/etc delights on display and with supreme intensity.

What a bargain!

Best drinking: 2016-2022. 17.7/20, 92/100. 14%, $25. Would I buy it? I reckon if I was in a BBQ mode and looking for juicy-but-not-simple-at-all reds I’d grab this in a heartbeat. Cheap for what it is.

Source: Australian Wine Review by Andrew Graham

Buy Dub Style No.1 Mataro here.

Sommelier Samantha Payne suggests Dub Style No.1 Bubbly for first dates!

 Photo: Mitch Lui

Photo: Mitch Lui

"Anyone who’s braved the dating scene in Sydney knows that on a first date, the right amount of alcohol can be a lifesaver...

But dating (and cost of living in Sydney in general) is expensive and you soon find yourself scraping together pennies during the week to fund dates. The weather is warming up, so head to your favourite bottle shop or online retailer and plan a first date adventure that won’t break the bank. 

Below are five of my current favourite wines....

2016 Dub Style ‘No. 1 Bubbly’ viognier – $12 per can
Skin-contact viognier in a handy park-size 375-millilitre can, this pretty little number packs a surprising punch. Slightly sweet and spritzy (like a drier version of moscato) it contains a 10.9% abv per can, so handle with caution. We recommend sharing a couple of cans between two."

No. 1 Bubbly is sold out for direct sales. Click here to ensure you are informed Dub Style No.2 Bubbly is available (pre-release form).  Available at fine restaurants and retailer in Sydney and Melbourne!

Source: Five Wines to Take on a First Date: Sommelier Samantha Payne gives us five inexpensive wines to take on a first date. Including one in a can - Broadsheet Sydney, published on 13th October 2016

 

 

Gary Walsh reviews 2014 Perfect Day Shiraz: "It's a beautiful wine"

"I have bottle #0034 of 2400 bottles. Feed animals in the zoo. No additions aside minimum effective SO2, with 50% new French oak (back label) or 50% new French oak (website). You made me forget myself.

I really like what I smell and taste here: a whole lot more McLaren Vale should take a leaf out of this book. Subtle violet perfume, toasted hazelnuts, blackberry, spice and sweet sweet earthiness. Medium bodied, full of freshly crushed blackberry and boysenberry, bitter dark chocolate, silty tannin, and a dried herb and liquorice laced finish of fine length and shape. Has an almost southern Italian feel to it, and a kind of unfettered energy. It’s a beautiful wine."

Rated : 94 Points
Tasted : Sep.16
Alcohol : 14.4%
Price : $40
Closure : Screwcap
Drink : 2016 - 2025

Source: Gary Walsh - The Wine Front

Max Allen on Dub Style's New Whites

Dub Style releases its first wine in a can. It's sparkling, semi-sweet and extremely refreshing.  Max Allen reviewed it today in "The Australian" (read below).  Check and try it!

“Orange wine”, as you know, is one of the trendiest styles out there in sommelier land right now. It’s the term used to describe wines made from white grapes that have been fermented on their skins because wines made this way often have an orange colour. Some don’t like the term, though, as they think it’s confusing (have the wines been made from oranges, or from the Orange region in NSW?), and suggest “amber wine” instead.

McLaren Vale winemakers Dudley Brown and Irina Santiago-Brown of Inkwell vineyard have come up with another tag for the rather good, tangy, 2016 skins-fermented viognier they’ve released for $25 a bottle under their Dub Style label: they’ve called it Tangerine — a nod to the Led Zeppelin song of the same name.

It’s not the only Dub Style skin-contact viognier made in 2016, either. The crazy winemaking pair also have released a semi-moscato-style wine they’re calling Bubbly No. 1: fruity, rich, sparkling, and packaged in a 375ml can for $13 a pop. A lot of winemakers overuse the “unique” claim but in this case it’s true: this surely must be the world’s first off-dry, extended skin-contact sparkling viognier in a can. More: dubstylewines.com."

Source: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/columnists/max-allen/marlborough-man-shows-his-age-well/news-story/93e02f6182231cb1170a74ada70e3f6c

2016 No.1 Viognier "Tangerine" DubStyle to be launched at the Game of Rhones

Inkwell and DubStyle Wines are proudly debuting our first extended skin contact white wine -  DubStyle No.1 "Tangerine" Viognier  - at the Game of Rhones events in Melbourne and Sydney this weekend (18 and 19 June, 2016). This project was encouraged by the amazing reviews we received from Philip White, Mike Bennie and other industry friends last year under the project code name "Laranja".  2016 DubStyle No.1 Viognier "Tangerine" is even more delicious than the 2015 project.  Come visit and taste for yourself!

2014 Infidels Primitivo - 94 points from Mike Bennie!

Check Mike Bennie's review on the latest issue of WBM!  Join host, wine writer Mike Bennie, in a round table tasting and discussion exploring Italian grape varieties planted in McLaren Vale. It's a great opportunity to taste our Primitivo during Sea and Vines, June 13, Monday.  Click here to know more and register.