Wines of Momentary Destination

Traveling the world making a new wine each year sounds like some sort of ridiculous dream job. For the founders of Wines of Momentary Destination this is a reality. Camellia Aebischer spoke to founder Nick Jones about how it all happened, and what they were recently doing in Australia.


COMBINING THE ANCHORING OCCUPATION of making wine and the fluidity of travel, Nick Jones, and Leah de Felice Renton have built a business based on both. The two have run the labels Wines of Momentary Destination and Birds&Bats Wine Productions since 2012 and don’t show any signs of slowing down.

Jones and de Felice Renton are based in the UK but have recently wrapped up a vintage in Adelaide, working alongside David Bowley of Vinteloper on a collaboration wine. The wine is currently ageing and is likely to end up in bottles and 30L kegs destined for the UK where wine on tap is commonplace. Some will be reserved for sale in Australia.

Pairing up is all part of Jones and de Felice Renton’s business model, which involves traveling to a new country each year and making a wine to add to their label, Wines of Momentary Destination.

Nick Jones and Leah de Felice Renton with their wines

 

  • How did you get started with the Wines of Momentary Destination project?

Nick Jones: We were about to start our first job and vintage out of uni, in the Rousillon. Leah got a small amount of inheritance money and instead of giving it to the bank, investing it in Bordeaux, or something similarly ridiculous, we thought we would try to make some wine of our own.

The idea cropped up when we were a few bottles deep in the Maury sunshine, like most good ideas, and from there we moved quickly to source some great fruit and rent the kit we needed in a tiny winery.

 

  • Who is involved?

NJ: We call ourselves a winemaking collective now. We started as just two of us but now we have other young winemakers making WMDs all over the place. The mantra remains ‘one wine, from one place, for one year’ but as a collective we can grow and help other young winemakers create the styles they truly want to make.

 

  • Why did you choose this structure?

NJ: We have this structure because when we first set out there was no way we could afford a winery or a vineyard. We don’t have family lineage in the wine trade and have had to hustle to get to this point. It’s a gentle but totally satisfying build from the ground up.

I guess not owning a vineyard gives us ultimate flexibility on what we can produce and what a given vintage wants to produce. We can chop and change as the ripening season goes on to get the variety that is doing best for that year. It sounds and is a bit nuts but it reduces risk in the end.

Aside the above we love to travel, work with different varieties, equipment and cultures each vintage. It’s a great way to see the world. It’s high adrenaline a lot of the time and lots of stress but as soon as you see someone enjoying what you have made it’s all worth it.

 

  • How did you make the decision to come to Australia this time?

NJ: We’ve both worked in Australia before and there’s so much inspirational stuff going on in wine across the board. The public are generally more knowledgeable than in the UK and the winemaking more forward thinking than in most of Europe. There’s plenty of cool shit going on and we wanted a piece of the pie.

All the thanks has to go to David and the Vinteloper crew for helping us out. Without their generosity and time we wouldn’t have had a chance to get over and source some top notch berries.

 

  • How did you end up linking up with David Bowley at Vinteloper?

NJ: Leah and I met David in London at a tiny trade tasting a few years back. We basically gate crashed the tasting with bottles in our bags as we wanted his distributor to try our wine. It was a bit of a shit thing to do but sometimes good things come from a bit of brashness. After bumping into each other a few more times in London we pitched the idea of collaboration and after a bit of arm twisting here we are.

 

  • What have you two put together (the collaboration wine)?

NJ: What started off as a joke formed into something pretty epic. David asked us what grape we should team up on as I said Lagrein as a bit of a joke. I didn’t think it was grown in the vicinity. With Syrah as it’s parentage I thought it was a bit of a riff on what us Brits associate as being synonymous with Aussie wine – big Shiraz. We kept our eyes on the patch and the grapes came through the door in mint condition. We are very excited about this one and we are hoping it put the variety on the map.

 

  • What do you find the most challenging about the a-typical nature of your label?

NJ: In the beginning people didn’t understand why we were making wine in this nomadic, one-off way. It’s hard enough to sell a wine in the first place and I think the UK is a bit behind you guys in accepting newer ways of making the stuff. We are happy to stick to our guns and create the different styles and labels we produce even if it makes them a little more difficult to sell. We are proud of being creative with what we produce and won’t be holding back just to cash in on a more mainstream market.

 

  • Where do your wines get sold and distributed?

NJ: We sell direct in the UK to bars, restaurants and wine merchants. Some of our bottles are available over in Canada too. We have such a small amount of volume that we are keen not to spread ourselves to thin and love working with nice clients that have businesses that fit our vibe.  We’d rather not sell to a place that we would be happy to be a punter at.

 

  • What’s on the horizon for Wines of Momentary Destination?

NJ: There’s a new release coming very soon from Priorat (Priorat county is a province of Taragona, south-west of Catalonia in Spain) made by our newest member of the WMD collective Antonio Rizzo. I’d earmark this guy to have a great future working towards his own label stuff.

We are always on the hunt for new collaborations and excuses to make more great wine. The network keeps expanding and so does the winemaking potential. There might be a little side step into a grape must and grain project, in Beijing of course! Apologies to the purists but I’m sure wine can make beer better.

Strong signals for positive growth

The news of more wine and more marketing money were the reasons for “cautious optimism” when grape and wine community leaders gathered in mid-July. Nathan Gogoll reports.

A POTENTIAL RECORD vintage intake could be announced at the same time $50million is injected into the wine industry marketing efforts.
That was the big news from a grape and wine community briefing held in Adelaide on Thursday.
The 2017 vintage intake will go close to breaking the 2005 record of 1.92million tonnes, at a time when the details of a $50million Federal Government marketing stimulus package are looming.
More details on both topics are set to be announced in August.

Vintage 2017 action at Huntington Estate, Mudgee NSW. Photo – Amber Hooper

The Winemaker’s Federation of Australia hosted about 60 people at the Finlaysons office in Adelaide for half a dozen short presentations from a group of industry leaders plus a short Q&A panel session.
The information presented included a preview of the 2017 ‘vintage report’ which is expected to be “at least 1.9million tonnes”. Continue reading

Could a succession plan protect your region?

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SUCCESSION PLANNING for vineyard businesses and the future integrity of South Australia’s wine regions will be hot topics at the annual SA Wine Grape Growers Summit on 28 July in Barossa.

In fact, a panel discussion chaired by Philip Reedman MW might end up being the most talked-about element of any of the Growers Summits held to date (this year is the fourth). The insights and debate expected from the afternoon session ‘Is your region’s future secure’ could well be worth the price of admission.

When the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (BGWA) surveyed grapegrowers toward the end of 2015 there was an eyebrow-raising number of respondents who indicated they were planning to leave the industry. About 30% of the local growers said they planned an exit in the next five to 10 years.

“It was a bit of a wake-up call,” said Nicki Robins, BGWA’s viticultural development officer.  “But the average age of Barossa grapegrowers is about 65.” Continue reading

Do wine bottles need a design update?

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Labels, seals and boxes are all accustomed to change in the wine industry. But choice of glass bottles has seen less design innovation. Camellia Aebischer reports on a few examples where something different has been chosen.

(Left to right: Shiny Wines, Sami Odi & Brave New Wine)

The importance of having a unique brand sees many trends come and go. Some are welcome, like a tidy wax seal, but some others just won’t seem to disappear, like glitter-covered bottles of sparkling.

The wines vessel often remains the same. Glass; clear, or tinged with green. In fact, wine bottle styles have barely changed across the past hundred years. But some makers are thinking outside (or inside) the box and exploring new shapes for a point of difference. Continue reading

A home run for Seabrook Wines

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By Gerri Nelligan

Winemaker Hamish Seabrook was determined that following his dream wouldn’t turn into a financial nightmare when he decided to develop a Barossa ‘home’ for his family brand. A fifth-generation member of the Seabrook wine family, Hamish has the industry in his blood.

Since 1878 Seabrooks have been in the wine trade, blending, importing, selling or making wine under the company philosophy of ‘sourcing top-quality grapes from the best regions of Australia’. And Hamish has made plenty of great wine from top quality grapes, including as a salaried winemaker in one of those ‘best regions’, the Clare Valley.

But that wasn’t enough: his dream was for Seabrook Wines to have physical roots, and ones that he could share with his young family. Continue reading

Aldi Rose: creating a false sense of success

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By Camellia Aebischer

You may have click-bait style articles popping up in your Facebook feeds recently praising the Aldi rose that was placed as “one of the best in the world” by an award “just like the wine Olympics.”

Although Daily Wine News did cover the silver medal award, which is a great achievement for the winemaker and retailler, there are some major flaws to this claim. Continue reading

Meet Australia’s future wine leaders

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16 talented and driven professionals from the Australian grape and wine community have been chosen to be the Future Leaders 2017.

Future Leaders is coordinated by Wine Australia in partnership with the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA) and Australian Vignerons (formerly Wine Grape Growers Australia). The Future Leaders program is designed to develop participants’ leadership capabilities and encourage innovation and thoughtful debate on the future of the sector. Continue reading

Who has the bargaining power?

WHILE THE grape and wine supply chain waits for positive export figures to translate into a real business boost, initial reports of suggest the grape price per tonne is hovering between $370 and $400 throughout the inland regions (Murray Darling, Riverina and Riverland). This represents a slight jump up from last year’s average of about $320 a tonne; offering hope of a recovery to good returns for both grapegrowers and wineries. Daniel Whyntie reports.

Senator Nick Xenophon said the Wine Industry Code of Conduct has “less bite than a toothless Chihuahua”.

Grapegrowers spend the vast majority of their annual expenses before vintage – in fact before the December 15 date which the Australian Wine Industry Code of Conduct sets out for price notifications. And some growers remain frustrated by a either a lack of information or the restrictive nature of their contract which has last years’ low price rolling across to 2017. There were even rumours of a ‘tractor blockade’ and grower boycotts before this year’s vintage began.

Last year the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) declared that contracting practices were the most significant issue affecting viticulture in a report into the sector.
“The risk sharing weighs strongly against the growers; they find it difficult to know what price they will receive and some are only paid after delivery. It’s not the equitable sharing of risk we’d like to see in good contracting practices,” said Mick Keogh, ACCC commissioner. Continue reading

Young gun: Michael Downer

Michael Downer is the third generation of his family to work the Murdoch Hill farm, in the Adelaide Hills, but during his time within the business he has changed the focus for the family. Daniel Whyntie reports.

The family property used to be as much about cattle as it was focussed on growing vines, but Michael Downer’s Artisan Series has built on the reputation of the Murdoch Hill wines and marked a turning point in the farming business.
Downer has applied the lessons learnt from his travels and set out to create wines that would set him apart; wines that have earned him the Young Gun Of Wine ‘winemakers’ choice’ award two years running.  Continue reading

Australian wine exports: Key market snapshots

Wine Australia’s four ‘heads of market’s’ recently joined forces to present a market overview for a Wine Communicators of Australia webinar late in 2016. They examined the issues, risks and opportunities for Australia’s major export markets. Daniel Whyntie sat in to bring you the highlights of their presentations.

UK: Stop the world I want to get off

Laura Jewell MW Head of Market Europe, Middle East and Africa

Looking back across recent history, the UK market has been pretty stable – recent declines had slowed and there was growth in the retail sector and in sparkling. However, the impacts of ‘Brexit’ have meant the outlook seems to change on a daily basis. The vote to leave was unexpected and it has become very clear the UK Government had not actually planned for this outcome. Continue reading