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.
- 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.