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Sydney’s first urban winery opens

Alex Retief pours a glass of red at Urban Winery Sydney.

Alex Retief pours a glass of red at Urban Winery Sydney. (Photo: Urban Winery Sydney)

Sydney’s first urban winery is up and running and open for business. I dropped in on my way to the airport last week (yep, it’s under the flight-path in St Peters) to catch up with proprietor/winemaker Alex Retief and have a sticky-beak.

Just off busy Princes Highway in Mary Street, Urban Winery Sydney is tucked away at the back of what I would call an industrial estate, except that this one seems populated by artists and craftspeople. You walk into a large, cool working space which has a small mountain of barrels stacked on one side, and an open, friendly-looking bar on the other. At the back are a full-size crusher, press, fermenting tanks, and so on. It’s a real grown-up winery. Last vintage, they put 40 tonnes through it.

Last Monday Alex and his assistant, a Charles Sturt University wine science student, were lining up a tasting of shirazes including Retief’s own (under the A. Retief label – tastings) and those of some friends he admires such as Steve Pannell (tastings) and Alex Head (tastings). They do dinners, product launches and other activities to earn some cash on the side. R.M. Williams did a launch there, and as a result, you might see Alex’s handsome face in some R.M. Williams advertising.

The cellar door and tasting bar operate from 4 to 7pm every evening. There’s an interesting program of events, including ‘meet the producer’ evenings: these have featured bespoke butter-maker Pepe Saya, and Pacific Urchin abalone and sea urchin. And there are ‘chef and winemaker lunches’ – these have featured Studio Neon and Alfie’s Kitchen.

Fancy a stretch? There’s yoga classes in the winery every Tuesday at 7-8pm … followed by a glass or two of A. Retief, naturally.

And any time you drop in, you can taste Alex’s wines such as biodynamic shiraz and rosé from the Retief family vineyard at Gundagai. Ever loyal to NSW, Alex also produces wine from Hilltops and Tumbarumba grapes. One of them is an ultra-hip Hilltops red Field Blend. Light eats (olives, cheeses, prosciutto and salumi) are always at hand.

A core part of the ‘meeting place’ concept is tutored tastings, guided tours, private events and blending masterclasses.

This is something new and exciting for the Sydney wine scene and deserves our support.

Urban Winery Sydney, Suite 6.01, Precinct 75, 75 Mary St, St Peters. Tel: 02 9565 5771. www.urbanwinerysydney.com.au.

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