Finally the dust has cleared, the adrenalin has peaked, the wine and food has been shared and the new friends have been made. Only now are we able to look back at our first foray into winery dinners interstate with some clarity! The release of our first vintage of M53 Shiraz- our new, tiny volume icon wine- definitely needed some celebration and ceremony. After all, the first time the M53 brand was used was on the Oliver family cattle in 1886! It was for this reason, that we decided to undertake a bit of a road show- with M53 Special Release Dinners in Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne & Brisbane.
This was the first time we have ventured interstate for our very own winery dinners, and we wanted it to be really special. A way to show off our wines with some great food, in some great venues, and personally share with our guests a bit more of the Oliver’s Taranga story. What we didn’t expect, was to gain a whole new group of friends all over the country, and that was the most special outcome by far.
The M53 roadshow started in Adelaide at the iconic Jolley’s Boathouse. On a rainy old night in Adelaide, 110 guests enjoyed a stunning meal prepared by Chef Tony Carroll and his team. Carefully matched to our wines, the food was truly spectacular. The guests enjoyed tales from Don Oliver about the origins of the family M53 brand back in the 1880’s, while tasting the wine itself. This was the first time that anyone outside the family had tried the 2010 M53 Shiraz, and to say I was nervous to hear the response was an understatement! The feedback was brilliant, and we needn’t have worried at all! A brilliant night out and great to meet a lot of our Adelaide based fans face to face. We were lucky to have the support of the Adelaide Magazine for our first event as well. Many thanks must go to Editor in Chief Jim Plouffe and his team for getting behind a small little family winery such as ourselves.
Next Don, Brioni & myself headed to Sydney for our M53 dinner at the super flash Otto Ristorante in Woolloomooloo. Don was very proud to see that he buzzed and sent the security scurrying at the airport. All courtesy of his new metal knee that had been inserted a few weeks prior! Somehow that made the pain of a knee replacement all ok. Our venue, on Cowper Wharf at Woolloomooloo, was stunning. Looking out over some very flash boats and into the harbour- just magic, and a brilliant clear, warm evening. After drinks and canapés outside, we moved upstairs and had a glorious meal. It was brilliant to meet a number of guests who have visited our cellar door in the past, and some who had never been, but had been enjoying our wines for a long time via our mail order. There was even a group who I had played taxi driver for when they visited our cellar door. They had mistakingly assumed that they would be able to call a taxi to take them to the next winery in McLaren Vale when they were ready to go! All good, they weren’t to know that taxis are very scarce in McLaren Vale. I squeezed them in to my car, next to the baby seat and the dog, and delivered them to our neighbour’s d’Arenberg cellar door!!
Next, Brioni & I headed to Melbourne and Brisbane for back to back M53 dinners. In Melbourne, we headed out to Lamaros on a chilly night. Great intimate setting, even having the wood fires going. In Melbourne we met a lot of guests who had been introduced to our wines by the fine wine guys at their local Dan Murphys. They had never visited the vineyard, but were very excited to attend the dinner, meet us, and taste wines that are not available in their local store- such as our Small Batch Fiano, Vermentino & M53. The M53 Shiraz was truly singing at this dinner. At the Melbourne dinner we also had the chance to catch up with a group of guests who have been to our vineyard many, many times over the years. “The Melbourne Boys” (as we like to call them) visit once a year on a bit of a boys wine trip and eat at one of our favourite spots, the Star of Greece in Port Willunga. They have been visiting us since before we even had a cellar door! One of the group mentioned to me that he had just done a stocktake of Oliver’s Taranga wines in his cellar- and there was a total of 46 dozen!!! I can only assume that it is a pretty large cellar overall, but it is really great to be able to catch up with people who are as passionate about your wines as you are, and who have supported our small little brand from its very humble beginnings to today.
Next morning, an early flight up to Brisbane. It was a very, very turbulent flight- and Brioni & I have tummies that don’t like to fly all that well. Quick dash from the airport straight to a Vietnamese place for a tummy settling and restorative Vietnamese Beef Pho. A rest in the Brisbane sunshine- and we were back in the game! The dinner in Brisbane was at Stokehouse in Southbank, right on the river. A seriously stunning restaurant if you ever get the chance to visit- highly recommended. We don’t have any distribution of our wines in Brisbane, so we wondered if anyone would even come along. We needn’t have worried!! With a full house of 70 guests, we enjoyed some glorious food – my favourite match being the 2013 Vermentino with the smoked black kingfish, pickled vegetables, fresh horseradish & avocado mousse. But of course, later in the night the 2010 HJ Reserve Shiraz and 2010 M53 Shiraz stole the night again. A fun part of each dinner was giving away a bottle of M53 in a business card draw. Brioni & I loved the spirit of competition that this often created with the guests! So congratulations to all of the winners!
Such great evenings- nothing better than sharing good food and wine with friends, and we loved every one of our M53 dinners. Our biggest thanks goes out to those guests who came along and enjoyed the ride with us. We realised that there are lots of options of things to do in your limited time, and we feel very humbled that you took time out of your busy week to share a meal with us and learn more about our wines and our vineyard. We really loved having the shared tables, where new friends could be made, and the spirit in which everyone participated in the dinners. We look forward to doing them again soon. And yes, Western Australia, we hear you- we will definitely head west next time we are on a dinner road trip. (if you have any suggestions for a venue, let me know at email@example.com!)
And we also have to thank everyone who has purchased a bottle of the 2010 M53 Shiraz. We realise that it is an expensive and rare wine, one that we are extremely passionate about, and we have been overawed at the reaction to the wine. We really appreciate our customers coming on the journey with us, and believing in our little vineyard in McLaren Vale. Imagine how awesome it would be if you had bought the first vintage to be released of Penfolds Grange, Rockford’s Basket Press or Henscke Hill of Grace!?! One day we hope that the M53 is considered in these esteemed circles. It may take a generation or two, but we have been here for 6 generations already. We we are not going anywhere, and we will continue to strive to bring you great wines from our little patch of McLaren Vale.