Home' National Liquor News : NLN FEB 2018 Contents 88 | FEBRUARY 2018 NATIONAL LIQUOR NEWS
HOW DID THE IDEA COME ABOUT
BETWEEN THE FOUR OF YOU?
The four of us are all neighbourhood friends and have worked in and
around each other in various capacities, and it became evident that Lou
Dowling, who was there at the foundation of Mary’s and has helped both
Kenny and Jake open places like The Unicorn and The Lansdowne, was
beginning to take on some more responsibility and ownership of these
businesses and was also getting a bit of itchy feet around the late nights
and the like that go with some of those operations. So he proposed to
the three of us that our neighbourhood was perhaps missing an essential
ingredient and that was a bottle shop, and particularly a bottle shop
that focused on what we like drinking and what it feels like a lot of our
community are needing experience in and finding it hard to access. And
that was natural wine, artisan spirits and craft beer.
SO IS THERE A CLEAR DEFINITION
OF WHAT IS A NATURAL WINE?
There is enough groundswell of information about natural wine that
being able to give some set parameters to that umbrella term is now
more reasonable. There are some people that are a bit flagrant to their
approach to that definition but for the most part people feel there is a
conscience to their winemaking and to their grape sources, and there are
some grey areas with that of course, but having no formal definition,
the informal definition of what natural wine is has to stand and we gave
ourselves the criteria to present to the licencing board that we felt best
universally described that for the most part.
WILL THE STORE BE PREDOMINANTLY WINE?
It’s predominantly wine in terms of the product mix, probably two-
thirds wine and one-third beer and spirits but there is still a very strong
connection to craft beer and particularly the brewers in Sydney’s Inner
West that Lou Dowling has built a very strong relationship with, so
they’re a strong feature within the shop and then there will be products
from smaller and finer distillers as well.
WE CHAT WITH MIKE BENNIE, WHO CO-FOUNDED A
NEW BOTTLE SHOP CONCEPT STORE IN SYDNEY’S
NEWTOWN WITH FELLOW WELL-KNOWN INDUSTRY
FIGURES LOU DOWLING (MARY’S), JAKE SMYTH
AND KENNY GRAHAM (MARY’S, THE LANSDOWNE,
HOW MUCH OF A FOCUS WILL
EDUCATION BE IN THE STORE?
Educational programs will be ideally run by me but also by winemakers,
distillers and brewers themselves that might be sharing their time with
us. We do have an event space which is licenced above the shop so
we’ll try and encourage as much of that as possible. Outside of that
it’s about having dedicated floor staff who know their stuff along with
the training that I’ll be providing the people who work here. And then
there is a connection to the wider community of winemakers, distillers
and brewers who will help enhance the understanding of their product
by being present. There’s a large community aspect to the business in
itself in that Mary’s is just up the road. We have a strong connection to
some of the local bars that exist and we’ll be augmenting some of the
products in shop. We’re going to have batched cocktails in the shop that
at times will be produced by places like Earl’s Juke Joint or Bloodwood
in Newtown for example. We have a bespoke gin that’s been produced
in batches and packaged by Poor Tom’s in Marrickville, so a there will be
a range of things that draw on our local community to try and enhance
what is going on in the shop itself.
TELL ME A BIT ABOUT THE
MIKE BENNIE CENTRE FOR GOOD WINE:
I’d like there to be events held at least weekly. For myself, I think I’ll do
around three events per month, which will be either one-off events or a
series of classes. But the events program I hope will be much easier than
that, with the number of winemakers that come through Sydney we’re
looking at getting them to do small masterclasses based around their
wines, their regions or various comparative products. I’m hoping that
two to three times per week there will be some form of formal class or
event that takes place in our event spaces.
WILL THESE EVENTS TARGET
CONSUMERS OR THE TRADE OR BOTH?
Both. There’s a cooperative nature to the space where if we don’t use the
winemakers for events then it can be a sort of home base to host events
for the trade with the idea that if they’re going to be hosting events for
their own private consumers that they’ll turn sales through the shop,
and if they’re simply hosting trade then that’s OK as well. It’s creating
an almost cooperative space that is part our own event space to host
events that augment our business, but also a space that can be used for
winemakers with a degree of freedom.
Lou Dowling and Mike Bennie.
P&V Wine and Liquor, Newtown.
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