This spring you can wander through the historical Rocks and along the spectacular Sydney Habour in a paradise of wine, food, craft beer and spirits. Sounds like a dream, right? Well this November you can experience what was once a dream for the two friends who started Vino Paradiso.
We chat with co-founders Keiran Tanner and Matthew Williams about their passion for fine wine and how they went about creating such a mouth-watering event…
Let’s start at the beginning – why did you start Vino Paradiso?
Matthew Williams (MW): People are more time poor than ever, and have less opportunity to visit a cellar door. We wanted to create an experience where people can visit all the best wineries, craft beer, ciders and produce in the convenience of one location – no other food and wine festival in Australia was following this format so we identified an opportunity to create one which did.
Keiran Tanner (KT): Australia’s wine industry has a really special and unique offering and we want to share this with not only Australia, but also the rest of the world.
What is the vibe you want people to feel at the festival?
KT: Like they’re getting the most they possibly can from one destination. Vino Paradiso is a celebration of everything that is wine and food, as well as Australia. Being located in The Rocks this year is allowing for a truly immersive experience for everyone that visits us. They’ll be able to enjoy the sun and cool breeze, Sydney Harbour as a backdrop and live music, all the while travelling Australia through a wine glass by visiting different regions through exhibitor stations.
We hear you have some interesting career trajectories. What were you doing before you start Vino Paradiso?
KT: I managed a successful import-export business from China that dabbled in alcohol and allowed me to really see the benefits and quality of Australian produce with fresh eyes. Through this, and a stint on Big Brother Australia in 2002 where I placed 4th Runner Up, I really got to appreciate how people come together over good wine and food.
MW: My background is in health and fitness. I was Australia’s Junior Triathlon Champion and personal trainer to the celebrities in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs through my business, Motivational Fitness. I made the switch to hospitality eventually, and now Vino Paradiso is my focus.
KT: Throughout our whole adult lives, though, we’ve loved a great glass of wine! Once we decided to enter the food and wine business, we headed off on a trip together, travelling the world to visit 120 wine, food, music and lifestyle festivals to research the good, the bad & the ugly (tough gig!)
What can we expect from this year’s festival?
MW: Good times!
KT: (Laughs) You’ll really be able to have a great time, and it’s open to all given it’s free to enter and centrally located. Whether you enjoy wine or not, you’ll have a good time at Vino Paradiso. There’s artisan beers, ciders, food, wine and more. There’s alcohol and food pairings from the predictable (Champagne and chocolate) to the unpredictable (Prosecco and arancini) and collaborations celebrating great produce such as Black Star Pastry with Rocks Brewing Co. and Gelato Messina with Logan Wines.
MW: We suggest having a light breakfast, and bringing all your friends down for a really fun time!
Can you give us a crash course on ‘what wine for what time’?
KT: Absolutely! Before we launch in, I think it’s important to note that there aren’t as many rules around ‘what to drink and when’ anymore… both consumers and winemakers are embracing the thought process that if you like the taste and are drinking responsibly, any time is a good time for any wine. This is demonstrated through some of the innovation coming out of Australia’s wineries at the moment, such as the Eden Road Cloudy Sauvignon Blanc, which will be on show exclusively at the festival.
MW: That being said, it’s nice to have a little bit of knowledge and so the scale generally goes, match the depth of the colour of your wine to the depth of the colour of your dish. So red meats are great with a bold Shiraz, while light Sauvignon Blancs nicely match white fish and fresh salads. Sweet and thick dessert wines are best paired with hard cheeses such as Blue or Stilton, and Champagne… well there’s never a bad time to pop the cork on a bottle!
Alright, so now I really want a wine! Anything else you want to share about the festival?
KT: Vino Paradiso is the only festival in Australia where you can visit 32 regions in the one location which is pretty compelling. Get excited and start drooling about what you’ll be able to see, by following the event on Facebook and don’t forget to invite your mates. Wine is better with friends!
Vino Paradiso runs from 6-8 November at the Rocks, Sydney.