Whilst researching options for setting up our dream business, we considered a number of criteria. I wanted the option of making wine but I’m not quite ready to move hours out of the city into the countryside. Whilst pondering this, I discovered an urban winery called Noisy Ritual. Urban wineries are a natural progression of wine enthusiasts taking their love to the next level; turning their passion into a business.
Noisy Ritual are a group of school friends Cam, Alex and Tim. On finding a large wine fermenter underneath a house that Cam was renting, they decided to make use of it. With grapes purchased from a local vineyard, they asked friends and neighbours to get involved in return for a few bottles of the finished product. Inspired by the level of interest, they decided to start a business. Now for a reasonable membership fee, anyone can learn about making wine without moving to the country. Four years in and Noisy Ritual is more popular than ever. I was left thinking “I wish I had thought of that!”
Noisy Ritual attracts people from all walks of life. There were wine enthusiasts like ourselves to people who had won the experience as a prize. A popular wedding gift too. The experience is split into several parts, all of which are done with a glass or three of last years vintage!
Week 1 – The Stomp
First we go through the process of ‘De-MOGging’. M.O.G. stands for Material Other than Grapes. The process includes removing all of the stalks and leaves and any unfortunate bugs, caught up in the picking process. Apparently one group found a live frilled lizard in one of the batches!
In turn, different groups enjoyed a delicious charcuterie board and a wine tasting with the resident wine maker. Alex clearly knows his stuff and we grilled him thoroughly for his top tips.
Next up came The Stomp. No messing about here, it was shoes off and jump straight in to the fermenting bins. The grapes were crushed the old fashioned way, between our toes! We were four to a bin so this was a great way to get to know our group members and make new friends!
Cam and Alex then took us through some of the science behind the art, testing the Baumé, which looked to be around 11.5. With the bins of grapes now ready for fermentation, we were free to share a couple of glasses of wine and a meal with our fellow vintners. Heading home, we were excited to return in two weeks for the next steps.
Week 2 – The Press
A couple of weeks later we were back at Noisy Ritual HQ. This time to press our grapes from their skins and get the wine into barrels for ageing.
Once again the day began with a glass of wine from last years vintage. Alex then gave us a run through of the plan and put us to work. Scooping the wine and must out of the bins into one of three large wine presses, whilst catching all of the wine running off, was definitely a team effort. Instantly, the “free run” wine was flowing from the press. This wine, which flows before any pressure is asserted, was the first of three stages of the press, later tasted.
The press assembled, we all had a go at squishing the ‘must’ to extract as much of the wine as possible. In no time, we had two 1000 Litre stainless steel tanks filled almost to the top with lovely wine! Time for a snack break with another amazing Noisy Ritual charcuterie board, Nom!
Into the barrel
The final step (for now) was to get the wine into barrels for ageing. Again a production line was set up. Buckets were filled from the tanks and poured directly into the barrels. It wasn’t long before we had six barrels full to the brim with wine! Once again, the ritual ended with a couple of glasses of wine and delicious meal, for the workers.
The Noisy Ritual team source grapes from all over Victoria and have a wide variety of wines which they produce each year. We were fortunate enough to be making a Heathcote Shiraz (one of my favourites) but we also had the pleasure of tasting delicious Pinot Noirs from Sunbury and Geelong and too many others to mention!
We made some new friends and had a great time, as well as learning lots from the knowledgable crew. The vintage is wrapping up for this year, but we would definitely recommend getting involved in Noisy Ritual’s winemaking experience next year. In the mean time you can always pop in to their bar in Brunswick East to say ‘hi’ and meet some friendly faces. They also have live music on weekends so it’s well worth getting down there to check them out.