The wine industry is absolutely brimming with energy at the moment! So many amazing people from producers, to restaurateurs that are really pushing the envelope on what I guess you could describe as a movement that they’re truly passionate about.
Name: Charlie O’Brien
Occupation: Winemaker @ Chateau Acid & Music Producer
Location: Sydney, Australia
Fantastic name and artwork. Tell us about it and who created the label? Thanks! My business partner Simon Jones and I have been great friends for a long time. When we set out to make some wine last year we were wanting to create a fun label that spoke to people instantly. It’s a play on words in terms of wine characteristics as well as a nod to the underground 90s cultural movement.
We threw around plenty of ideas in the countless hours commuting between Sydney and the winery in Canowindra before Simon (who is an amazing graphic designer) came up with the ‘grape dude’ and punchy logo to drive home our aesthetic.
When did you start the drop? 2017 was our first vintage. We didn’t make very much as we didn’t really know how it would all unfold. We ended up with a total of around 650 bottles; a pretty small run.
How much time does it take to produce a batch? A LOT. We started vintage in February 2017 and our wine made it to the restaurant and bottle shop shelves by December. It’s not always the case, but we felt that a little extra time in the bottle would help.
Do you grow your own grapes? No, we work with grapes from an amazing biodynamic and organic certified grower by the name of Sam Statham of Rosnay Estate in Canowindra. Their entire vineyard and surrounding land have never been sprayed with any chemicals and the vineyard was planted over 20 years ago, which is pretty rare to come across in Australia.
In a nutshell, what does an average day on the farm look like? Cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, more cleaning. And then after that, a bit more cleaning.
Winemaking involves a lot of preparation and transferring between different vessels which of course have to be sterile… So the pressure washer is our best friend.
We start early in the day, at harvest time that can mean around 3am to beat the heat. We discuss what we need to get done for the day, and our generous estimation on time generally gets blown out by about a factor of three. So this makes for long days, we usually get dinner on the table fairly late!
Besides wine what other creative passions do you have? It’s fair to say that we’re both passionate about music. Both of us have music projects and Simon is a design ninja which I also enjoy dabbling in (but I’m no match)
When you aren’t on the farm what else do you get up to? I do lots of music stuff – music producing, DJing and running Heaps Decent, a non-profit organisation that engages young people through music.
What have been some highlights over the past 12 months? I guess the biggest moment for us was receiving favourable reviews from a number of people we have really looked up to for a long time. Going into our first vintage, we were uncertain about how it would turn out. We worked really hard to try to achieve what we set out to but when it actually turned out that way, that was a very gratifying experience.
What changes have you seen in the industry? With our 2017 entry into in the industry, we really underestimated the demand for skin contact orange wine.
Has this affected your approach to producing? Our 2018 vintage has involved scaling up the whole operation including as much of our “Bianco” (a skin contact Vermentino) as we could get our hands on!
What do you think the Australian Government could be doing to support local small business? Less red tape on anything to do with alcohol! It’s an absolute nightmare trying to get a license in
What is the secret ingredient to success? I don’t think it’s very secret! I think that hard work and determination will generally lead you to success.
Who do you admire? The wine industry is absolutely brimming with energy at the moment! So many amazing people from producers, to restauranteurs that are really pushing the envelope on what I guess you could describe as a movement that they’re truly passionate about.
Favourite place to travel? Italia!
Images: Charlie Obrien
Interview: Michelle Owen