Self-confessed “professional wine enthusiast” James Hopkins has a dream – one where quality Aussie wine is accessible to all. This month he jumps the border to WA with Wine Playground.
Almost four years on from its debut, The Fruitful Pursuit has developed into something of a crusade for founder James Hopkins. He has translated his passion for Australia’s fast-evolving wine scene into a venture that connects eager consumers with a thoughtfully curated selection of winemaker-focused experiences. Through winery tours, tastings and wine education sessions, James has been diligently keeping his offering fresh and innovative, while facilitating his State’s introduction to its local grape – one set of taste buds at a time. However, this month The Fruitful Pursuit collective raises its glass to new territory, with a special foray into WA – Wine Playground. The intimate tasting session is an opportunity for wine education and discovery of our neighbouring State’s wines, but it’s also about having a little fun with what has historically been an intimidating industry for the masses to get their heads (and lips) around. We debriefed with James on the inaugural event.
What are you and The Fruitful Pursuit about?
I curate wine events and share dreams, among other things. The Fruitful Pursuit creates experiences. We focus on the edge, on the progressive movements within Australian wine. Call it ‘minimal intervention’ or ‘natural’ if you wish, we mostly focus on conscientious humans who make wine on a human scale. There’s an entire culture of producers who are redefining what we drink and how we enjoy it—that’s where we thrive.
How did you get going in this direction?
We started a tour collective in 2014, to bridge the gap between winemakers and Adelaide’s burgeoning food and wine service industry. Many of us sought a deeper connection with what we were pouring. Winemakers, as we quickly realised, were the most legitimate embodiment of the passions we shared. In 2016 we decided to pull together a selection of our favourites for a backyard tasting event down near one of our southern beaches. It didn’t sell out but the tone was perfect; it captured almost everything we’d come to love about our expeditions. Two years later, with a national reach and dozens of events under our belt, we’ll be arriving in Perth to continue the journey.
Why are you passionate about SA wine… and why should everyone be equally as enthusiastic about it?
It’s just what’s on my doorstep, but I’m as passionate about SA as I am about everything I’ve yet to discover. We’ve got a lot happening in SA, as WA does.
So what are your thoughts on the WA wine scene?
It was a pleasure realising the cultural parallels we share with Perth. We once clung to very parochial drinking attitudes, now we’re both searching beyond the border. You’ve got an exciting scene building over there; some great humans doing great things for your city. It’s become cliché to just bounce to the East Coast. You’ve also got a wealth of stunning fruit and some enlightened characters making very cool booze within a drive away.
What do you have coming up in Perth?
We bringing Wine Playground to Perth – ‘cause every winemaker we’ve ever invited to Adelaide has told us we have to bring the party out West. We’ve made some dear friends, some of whom have returned multiple times. It’d be rude not to reciprocate, don’t you think?
How can Perth folk take up your invite and what can they expect?
We’re sending you a fleet of SA’s freshest talents to share the shenanigans and shine a light on what’s happening over the fence.
THE MYSTERIOUS MR BLACK
THE OTHER RIGHT
and introducing SAWA SAWA
These winemakers represent a full breadth of varieties, styles and expressions emerging across our greatest regions. They’re all independent. They’re all pushing the movement forward. In addition to the tastings there will be takeaway sales, educational talks and open forums by Emcee Yoko & Emcee Andries to allow the producers to connect with their consumers.
Lastly, what’s your best piece of wine-related advice?
Experience all of it. Taste everything. You never know when your journey will start or how far your curiosity will take you.
Wine Playground Perth ’18 is on Saturday May 5, from 1-6pm (Tasting 1-4pm) at The Bird, 181 William Street, Northbridge. Tix: $55 (inc. TFP x Riedel glass)
Buy your tickets/get more info at http://thefruitfulpursuit.com