From vineyard to The Valley – Gerler Wines officially unveils City Winery
The finest wines aren’t the ones with an exorbitant price tag. Rather, the best drops are ones that have a story to tell. Gerler Wines is all about telling stories – from that of its namesake inspiration Carl Gerler to the finer details of the grapes it sources – and the boutique winemaker’s latest project is shaping up to be a significant chapter in its own right. Opening today, City Winery is the result of a three-year process to bring boutique winemaking into Brisbane’s inner city. The micro-winery-cum-restaurant is not only an eye-catching spot for sampling Gerler wines and hearty fare, but also an opportunity for wine lovers to learn about the winemaking process, while simultaneously demystifying the industry for newcomers.
For Dave Cush and Adam Penberthy – co-owners of formerly nomadic vino operation Gerler Wines – the process behind opening Brisbane’s first micro-winery has been an exercise of patience. Since initially starting Gerler’s wine stockpile three years ago, the duo have scoured Brisbane’s inner suburbs, spending 18 months searching for the perfect location to install their vision for an inner-city winery operation. During this time the pair opened chic Newstead wine bar Carl’s before finally securing a suitable multi-faceted space on Wandoo Street. After receiving the keys to the location (the former site of Campos Coffee), the team embarked on a six-month refurbishment process to get the venue into fighting shape. Today, Adam and Dave can breathe easy as City Winery has officially opened to the public. Inspired by the micro-brewery boom and kindred metropolitan winery operations like Sydney’s Urban Winery and Melbourne’s Noisy Ritual, City Winery is bringing the winemaking process back to the heart of Brisbane for the first time since Gerler’s namesake – winemaker Carl Gerler – operated in town during the 1800s. City Winery has been designed predominantly as a bricks-and-mortar home for Gerler’s barrel-ageing process, but Dave and Adam also envision it as a place where folks can learn about the wine industry at large by interacting with those responsible for its creation.
The old Campos space has been completely transformed, with significant reconstructive surgery employed to not only house Gerler’s barrels and bar, but also an on-site restaurant and 20-seater private dining space. For the curious, the process for Gerler’s inner-city winery is as follows – Dave sources small parcels of quality grapes from some of the finest growing regions in Australia (think McLaren Vale, the Barossa Valley and Langhorne Creek), then rents winery space for juicing before bringing the liquid back for the treatment and barrel process. French and American oak barrels line the wall of the Wandoo Street warehouse, showcasing one third of Gerler’s full cache (the rest are housed off-site in Virginia). Diners and drinkers will be able to taste from the barrel, and bottling workshops and grape stomping events are on the cards. City Winery would be nothing if it didn’t actually serve wine, but fear not – the venue’s on-site bar and restaurant is amply stocked with Gerler’s full range of minimal-intervention drops. Crafted to complement Queensland’s climate and produce, Gerler’s collection is on the lighter end of the spectrum, with even some of Gerler’s red varietals best served chilled. Dave will also be curating a rotating selection of wine ‘friends’ to try – think labels with stories to share that employ processes that align and inspire Dave’s own winemaking practices.
Travis Crane (formerly of Ballanbean Estate’s The Barrelroom) has come on board as head chef of City Winery’s restaurant, while his partner Arabella Chambers is overseeing the front of house. After initially liaising with the City Winery team in a consultancy role, Travis saw the potential of the venue and signed on to spearhead the fare component, which follows an ethos similar to what he employed at The Barrelroom. Utilising fresh produce sourced exclusively from ethical and sustainable farms, Travis’ paddock-to-plate and nose-to-tail approach will ensure the menu changes frequently, as City Winery will be sourcing whatever is available and best in the moment. Anything smaller than a cow is butchered on-site, with dry-ageing cabinets displaying an assortment of cuts while a custom-built fire pit will be employed to cook the restaurant’s various morsels over open flame. The fare itself defies easy categorisation, but it will be playful, open-minded and will incorporate varied techniques. City Winery’s sit-down menu currently includes options such as smoked mussels on brown-rice wafer, grilled red claw with tarragon and roast-garlic butter, organic mallow sheep with sheep strudel and smoked beetroot, and braised pork tail with pork scratchings, noodles and broth. A smaller bar menu is available at the bar, offering campfire jaffles, coal-grilled corn on the cob, pork-and-liver terrines and charcuterie boards.
City Winery is now open. For contact details and booking information, head to the Stumble Guide.
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