Between the summer’s bushfires and the current whatever you want to call this, it hasn’t been a particularly auspicious 2020 for the Australian wine industry. Thankfully, however, none of it has stopped the most determined of the bunch from making wine – and it most definitely hasn’t stopped the rest of us from drinking it.
Ari’s Natural Wine Co, in the Southern Highlands, typically sells almost exclusively to wine bars and restaurants (like Love, Tilly Devine, 10 William St and Bella Brutta, to name a few), but in light of recent happenings, business is down almost 90 per cent. In response, the small, family-owned winery has opened a virtual cellar door and is selling wine directly to consumers for the very first time.
The project began as a hobby more than 30 years ago, when Ari Zafirakos tried his hand at making the types of wines he grew up in drinking in his native Greece. Over time, he began selling to friends and neighbours, and with the help of his son Tony started selling to venues and small retailers in 2018.
With the exception of the most recent vintage (which comes from South Australia because of smoke taint), all of the fruit is sourced from different regions in New South Wales, and everything in the winery is done by hand. No electricity or pumps are used, no sulphur is added at any stage and everything is unfined and unfiltered. In other words, this is as “hands-off” as it gets, and equally “small-batch”, too, with an upper limit of 100 cases made of any one style.
Wines are labeled by style rather than variety, which keeps things nice and simple. ‘White-ish’, for instance, is a cloudy white made from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc; ‘Pink’ is a whole-bunch rosé, while ‘Mandarin’ is an orange wine with notes of spice and stone fruit. ‘Big Red’, meanwhile, like the name suggests, is a heftier merlot.
Planting a vineyard and opening a bricks-and-mortar cellar door are in the pipeline, but for now, cyberspace will have to do. Packs of three and six are available, as well as magnums if you feel like living large – and if you need another incentive to sweeten the deal, delivery is free. Yamas!
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