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Emerging winemakers to star at Cellar Door Fest

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A new wave of impressive South Australian winemakers will be showcased in a kitchen-table-style setting when Cellar Door Fest returns to the Adelaide Convention Centre this weekend.

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The Emerging Winemakers Kitchen Table is a new addition to this year’s program and will feature 20 emerging South Australian wine labels.

As part of the free event, small groups will sit down at a kitchen table and talk to up-and-coming winemakers about their brand.

“It’s all about trying to break down barriers,” Cellar Door Fest wine ambassador Paul Henry tells InDaily.

“We’re just creating a very convivial, almost domestic atmosphere with winemakers and their wines at a long kitchen table.”

Most of the featured labels are in their infancy, with some still operating out of converted sheds or single-press wineries. Despite their relative anonymity among more celebrated South Australian wine labels, Henry says the quality of wine is worth tasting.

“These are really people that have no visibility in the marketplace and yet in some instances have not only the best and most interesting stories to tell, but also from a quality point of view are really producing some exceptional things.

“I think the very fact that they don’t have what the established winemakers have, which is reputation and scale, gives them a sense of freedom to do something different because in a sense that’s the only way they’re going to cut through.”

Micro-winery The Cutting will present its 2014, 2015 and 2016 Shiraz to the public for the first time at the Cellar Door Fest as part of the Emerging Winemakers Zone

Planted in the Stone Well region in the Barossa Valley in 1998, The Cutting vineyard produces what Henry describes as “beautiful, distinctive and elegant signature styles”.

“I just thought I’d play around with some [grapes] because the fruit is really good and then 2014 was born and it showed up much better than we could have ever imagined,” The Cutting winemaker Belinda Van Eyssen says.

“Because it’s our own brand, we’ve got a chance to play around with different techniques and make smaller batches of wine and blend components together.”

Van Eyssen and her viticulturist husband Daniel McDonald supplied grapes to other South Australian wineries before launching their own label in 2014.

“That’s what consumers want, they’re looking for something different, something small, something boutique,” Van Eyssen says.

Henry says many emerging winemakers are willing to experiment to create new blends using different grape varieties.

“There’s a great movement at the moment to look at new grape varieties, and particularly Mediterranean grape varieties, that hitherto had not been planted in Australia,” he says.

“You see a lot of that kind of experimentation at the moment, particularly in regions like McLaren Vale.”

The Cutting winemaker Belinda Van Eyssen. Photo: Supplied

Aside from its focus on wine, the Cellar Door Fest will also feature the state’s budding craft brewing and distilling industries at the festival’s Beer Garden and Distillery District.

The Distillery District will host an interactive gin-blending masterclass and DIY workshop, as well as the McLaren Vale Distillery Long Table Lunch.

The festival will be officially opened with a Food Booze + Dancing Shoes Friday night after-party, featuring local produce, ‘booze’ and music. 

More than 180 South Australian wineries, breweries, distilleries and food venues will be represented at the three-day event.

Cellar Door Fest will run from this Friday to Sunday at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

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