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Pinot Palooza Turns Five!

By News, Pinot Palooza, The Rant No Comments

Yesterday we officially kicked off the PINOT PALOOZA 2016 TOUR.

Really, it’s a birthday party. The event turns 5 this year and when we look back to the first haphazard, fly by the seat of our pants event at Ormond Hall in 2012, to the six city tour, two country beast that it is now, its come a long way.

For those of you who don’t know about the event, its a rocking celebration of our favourite grape, Pinot Noir. How did I come up with it? Well, I was drinking too much Pinot Noir (in enthusiastic moderation!) and I may have called out ‘I’d love to do an event called Pinot Palooza’; a throwback to the classic festival of LollaPalooza.

The rest is history.

And since then, its been amazing to see how its grown and how its been received and supported by not just the wineries involved, but attendees.

Wine is so hot right now. Never before have people been more interested in wine -but they want to learn about it and experience it the same way in which they consume it; socially.

No one wants to sit in a classroom listening to a bunch of old men tell them what they don’t know.

Because wine should be fun first, facts second. I think this is at the core of the success and growth of not just Pinot Palooza, but our other events and many others like them.

Over 60% of our attendees are women. Over 60% of our attendees are under the age of 35 and in that demographic with the percentage of women increasing to 65% and, in some cities, 70%. A far cry from those who say young people aren’t into wine.

I’m stoked we’re kicking off the 2016 tour. This year we have over 250 wines on tasting from 100 odd pinot noir producers from Australia & New Zealand throughout the six city tour. Not only do we return to Adelaide, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane but we head to Auckland for the first time.

We’re really ramping up the whole event this year with more awesome Pinot, and we’re taking the food & drinks offering to the next level as well.

Do likes of Burn City Smokers, Ladro, Belle’s Hot Chicken, Bodega, Africola, Gerards, Yarra Valley Dairy, Young Henrys, Sample brew (and heaps more) sound like a good idea? Yeah, we think so too.

We’ve come along way since the first event in 2012. We’ve had over 200 wineries involved. Run the event 12 times with over 15,000 bottles of wine poured. That’s a lot.

Out of those 200, seven wineries have been at every single one and they continue that trend in 2016. Massive thanks to Curly Flat, Moondarra, Yabby Lake, Josef Chromy, Mt Difficulty, Giesen and Greywacke. What I also like about these producers, is that its a snapshot of the broad range of wineries we’ve had involved from so many regions. Its actually quite humbling.

So here we go. Another year of the biggest celebration of Pinot Noir in the country,

What about the next five years?

We’re going to make Pinot Palooza the biggest Pinot Noir event on the planet. Look out Asia and the USA, we’re coming for you!

*mic drop*


By News, The Rant 2 Comments

Despite being fiercely Melbournean, I love Sydney.  The food and wine scene there has been going from strength to strength for a number of years and can legitimately lay claim to some of the most innovative, exciting and forward thinking restaurants and wine bars in the country right now.

This is being celebrated, cheered and revered loud and proud not only nationally, but internationally so you’d expect such accolades and reverence would be applauded by the NSW state government. Instead what we’re seeing is a cruel and misguided crackdown.

As with all in the hospitality industry, I’ve been shocked and appalled at the draconian lock out laws and insane regulation currently affecting Sydney venues. This article by Mike Barrie, that went viral, is a detailed summary of the current state of play and I recommend taking the time to read it. It questions the integrity of the reasoning behind the rules, and highlights how a small few benefit at the expense of the many.

Further to this, a few weeks ago Sydney’s beloved wine institution, 10 William Street, was questioned by NSW police and accused of promoting ‘unsavoury behaviour’ on their blackboard wine list.

10 William Street has one of the best wine lists in the country. And it is about as far from a high-risk venue promoting unsavoury behaviour as it is possible to get.

Wine, it seems, is now in NSW Liquor and Gaming’s sights and this is something we should all be concerned about.

The press release by NSW Police stated the venue was under a restaurant licence, not a bar, had no reference to food on the blackboard nor menus on the table. However the strangest line is ‘a bar area with a large amount of wine and spirits was observed’.

Just think about that last sentence for a minute and see if it makes any type of sense.

The bureaucracy surrounding state liquor licensing laws is confusing, contradictory and often out of touch with the vibrant food and beverage culture we have in this country.  This is never more so than in NSW.

Rules constantly change and when clarification is sought, it is far too often contradictory or, at worse, misleading.  Liquor licensing is managed at a state government level rather and as a result every state in Australia has different licensing regulations with different procedures and requirements. Some are indeed better than others but each have their own set of challenges.

We deal with 7 different licensing bodies, 7 different sets of rules and regulations, and many different councils.


The cost of compliance, and subsequent frustrations with licensing, is something we at Bottle Shop Concepts know far too well.  As an example, to run 4 wine tasting events in Melbourne last year, approximately $13,000 of fees were paid to VCLGR for Temporary Limited Liquor licences (a cost of around $4.50 per attendee). Adding the time it takes to fill out the licences (over 1400 pages in total), chase up, compile and present these licences, the figure virtually triples. Time is indeed money.

Why so much money? Because each and every wine producer at any event in Victoria must have a temporary liquor licence, to show their wine, on top of their producer licence unless they are a Victorian producers holding an Event Promotion Authority.  Out of 60 producers for Pinot Palooza last year, 3 wineries had this authority.

These temporary licences are either $105.30 (for Victorian producers) or $56.80 for interstate and or international wine producers.

Only Victoria makes it mandatory for every wine producer to have their own licence, rather than a licence which covers the whole event.

Confused yet?


To further add to this, every person person who pours wine at any event must have an accredited RSA certificate for that state in which they present.

Currently, there is no RSA certificate to cover you for all states in Australia. Need I remind you it is 2016.

For example, to get a NSW RSA you must do it in person or online (only available since late 2015) however once done, you then need to get a ‘competency card’ by applying, in person, at a ‘Service NSW Centre’.  This all takes valuable time.

You can imagine the cost and frustration for Australian wine producers who promote their wares nationally but think for a minute about implications for international producers, including New Zealand, when visiting Australia. These are issues that affect all in the wine industry and any event which provides alcohol.

Technically speaking, if ‘my very dear friend’ Aubert de Villane (of Domaine de la Romanee Conti) visited Australia, poured his wine at an event where there was a ‘possibility of sale’, he would have to have a valid RSA certificate for the state in which he is in.

In 2015, we collected over 484 RSAs from the 225 wineries. So when you add up the fees of not only the course itself (on average around $125 per person for a national RSA), the time it takes to complete, compile and document, the costs of such compliance quickly rises into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

All this for a wine tasting.


The last time I checked, that person kicked out of the MCG wasn’t because they’d had too much Pinot Noir. 

That fight you heard about in Kings Cross probably wasn’t because they’d had too much Chablis.

Wine by default is social; you share it, you celebrate it. So when you hear one of Australia’s best wine bars being accused of ‘unsavoury behaviour’ you can’t help but ask what the hell is going on.

That is not to say there are not issues surrounding the drinking culture of Australians. There are. But good operators promote good food AND responsible service of alcohol. Businesses WANT to the do the right thing but licensing and government bodies need to work ‘with’ the industry, not against it.

Accurate, fair and clear guidelines are a desperately needed start.

Never before has the food and wine culture been so vibrant and diverse in Australia. We have incredible wine & food producers, world class chefs, mind blowingly talented Sommeliers and a public desperate and motivated to know more about what they imbibe both so socially and responsibly.

Liquor licensing laws need to reflect the cultural vibrancy of our food and wine culture. 

How can Sydney (or Australia for that matter) claim to be an international destination without them?


To help you navigate the madness of RSAs in Australia, we’ve put together this step by step guide (with links) on how to gain a nationally accredited RSA.

We will update these as the rules continue change.

NOTE: There has been a number senate enquiry recommendations presented recently stating that there needs to be work done with states and territories to ‘establish mutual recognition arrangements for RSA qualifications’.

To Australia’s wine and drinks journalists, I challenge you to investigate and communicate this further.


By News 4 Comments

Welcome to the minefield that is liquor licensing and compliance in Australia! There are many rules, and just as many exceptions…

Everyone who pours alcohol in Australia, in any capacity, must have a Responsible Service of Alcohol qualification (RSA). Regulation around this is completely understandable (to a point) however each state has different, often contradictory and confusing requirements.

Lucky for you, we’ve spent many an hour navigating this frustrating world and have come up with, what we believe, to be simplest (and easiest) steps to gaining NATIONALLY ACCREDITED RSA CERTIFICATES to cover you for ALL states in Australia. **Victoria WILL accept any Nationally Accredited RSAs (even those earned via online training) for trade shows or events like ours, as long as it has the qualification numbers SITHFAB009A, SITHFAB201 or SITHFAB002 noted on the certificate.**

Please note this is correct as of January 2019 (requirements change regularly and we will update accordingly). Direct from the VCGLR website as well: “Interstate staff who are supplying liquor at wine and beer producers events, which are one-off or short-term events are no longer required to apply for mutual recognition if they have either a current Victorian RSA certificate or a Statement of Attainment from the Nationally Accredited Training unit, either SITHFAB009A, SITHFAB201 or SITHFAB002”.


Yes, there is a Nationally Accredited RSA scheme, that covers you for trade shows and events in ALL STATES (with the exception of NSW). However, the ACT will only accept National RSA’s issued in ACT. As a result, we recommend this National RSA training course as it will cover you for all states (excluding NSW).

NOTE: Make sure when you’re getting a certificate, that it has the qualification numbers SITHFAB002 noted on it.


Now you need to get another one as NSW will only accept NSW accredited RSA’s. To do this, you must either sit the course in person or via the NSW online training course here

Once you’ve earned your online RSA, you MUST visit a Service NSW Centre to convert your ‘statement of attainment’ certificate to a ‘Competency Card’.

This can only be done IN PERSON with the card itself taking up to 3 weeks to be delivered. However, you are covered by the certificate in the meantime (up to 3 months from issue).

We know, right. Cray.

NB – NSW no longer accept paper RSAs of any kind, other than these interim certificates, issued in the last 3 months. These certificates must be converted into a Competency Card within 3 months. If your certificate has expired, you can still convert it into a Competency Card, you just will not be covered in the meantime. The only other option is to resit the course at full cost again to get a new interim certificate – so make sure you get your card while you’re in NSW. Boo! 


Victoria WILL accept any Nationally Accredited RSAs (even those earned via online training) for trade shows or events like ours, as long as it has the qualification numbers SITHFAB009A, SITHFAB201 or SITHFAB002 noted on the certificate.

There’s a lot of conflicting information around this (just try and figure it out), but we have express WRITTEN CONFIRMATION from VCGLR that this is true.

If your course does not have the above aforementioned course numbers, you will need do an ONLINE BRIDGING COURSE (which is free).
You can do so HERE.

This bridging course needs to be completed every three years.


Finally,  if you’re selecting a different RSA provider, just make sure when choosing a Nationally Accredited RSA, they carry this logo.

Yes, we know. This is ridiculously annoying. We know it, we live it. But right now, this is what we believe to be the best (and quickest) way to navigate your way through the RSA madness and be able to pour your wine in every (nanny) state in Australia.

As an example, we collated 484 RSA in 2015 to cover the 225 wineries who took part in our (and managed) events. The joys.

We will update this post when new information comes to light.

The recent senate enquiry presented recommendations that states work together to make RSA nationally recognised. In the meantime, use the above.


By News, The Rant 3 Comments

In January we shared our 2015 End of Year Report which detailed many of the facts and stats that Bottle Shop Concepts accumulated throughout our 16 events last year.

We did so in the spirit of openness and collaboration to hopefully highlight just how interested people are about what they imbibe; especially wine. One of more fascinating parts of the report, as far as I was concerned, related to the demographic data of the people who engage with our events.

60% of our attendees were women and 55% were under the age of 35 – and in fact the percentage of women under 35 increases from event to event, peaking in Brisbane at 75% for Game of Rhones.

I highlight these statistics especially as they offer some pertinent insights. Plus, it reminded me of a twitter discussion I attempted to enter late last year about how young people, apparently, are disinterested in wine.

The discussion participants, of which I observed were of an older male demographic, were stating that young people aren’t interested in wine by quoting some stats and graphs.

I offered a contrary opinion and shared some of the data from our events hoping to positively contribute.
And their response?


For me, it was this that highlighted the exact issue they were attempting to comprehend.
They failed to engage or acknowledge someone of contrary opinion and not of their wine critical world.

How can you complain about young people are not engaging with you if you ignore them or, at worst, berate them for their drinking choices?
Why are you not surprised if their attention is elsewhere?

I would argue that young people ARE interested in wine.

They’re just not interested in reading/hearing about it the same old way in which wine has been communicated, by the same people, nor sit in a class room to learn about it.

From where we sit, people want to learn about wine the same way in which they consume it; socially. And then share their experience.

Said people also complained about the shrinking of column inches in newspapers dedicated to wine.
Again, why are you surprised if you’ve been saying the same thing over and over again for 20 years?

I’m reminded of this today as yet another article questioning a certain wine style, and the sommeliers who pour it, is doing the internal wine rounds. I stress ‘internal’ as I very much doubt it will have any reach outside of the top 5% of wine drinkers.

The cold hard reality is that if people aren’t reading or listening to you, what you are saying is not relevant to them and this is obviously why column inches are shrinking.
Their attention is elsewhere and has been for years.

Stomping your foot at your next wine junket or free lunch will still not change the fact the market for wine commentary consumption, and influence, has shifted significantly.
It did years ago.

I don’t think for a moment the demographic data we’ve compiled is the be all and end all.
But what I do believe is we are seeing the ‘new’ wine drinker fill the gap between the top 5% and the lower, ‘high volume’ end the market.

What the data does show is not only increased interest and engagement, but perhaps more importantly, how people want to engage with wine brands and learn about wine. Again, socially.

This new middle wine ground is where the attention and excitement is and, sadly, many commentators (and wine producers for that matter) are missing it or, at worst, failing to acknowledge it.

In the words of Gary Vaynerchuk. Market in the year that we actually live in.