This Wine Project Is Squeezing New Appreciation Into Old Traditions, One Grape At A Time


No electricity, no worries.


Photography by Jenah Piwanski

“This journey began in Adelaide back in 2011 with a crazy idea,” starts David Bowley, Chief Everything Officer at VINTELOPER and brains behind the Urban Winery Project (UWP).

“People love visiting wineries, but have no idea what actually goes on behind the cellar doors,” he adds. “We were so intent on making this happen because we knew that if people could actually see, touch and taste behind the scenes, it would make every glass of wine for the rest of their lives taste a little bit better.”

Since inception in 2012, the UWP has popped up in various locations around Adelaide and Melbourne; sharing wine with the brave and the curious.

160323_potpan_uwp_wk4_010“Each year we approach someone we love and respect to collaborate with. The key ingredient is that the brands align and inform each other, speaking to the same niche about the same values,” David explains, looking forward to the next big partnership, whereby UWP will grace the glasses of NSW patrons at Three Blue Ducks in 2017.

“We see new faces every year because the word of mouth around the Urban Winery Project is so strong and the experience so unique. The sensation of wine grapes popping between your toes, releasing all that juicy goodness, is something everyone should know the joy of… It’s bubble wrap times 1000!” says David.


So successful have they been after five seasons, VINTELOPER have seen UWP forge its own brand identity, now with its own website and social media, and they have hosted pop-up wineries in re-imagined warehouse spaces alongside some of Australia’s top chefs and iconic locations.

“The trick is to find partners to collaborate with who get that ‘why’, and even better if they have one similar. The aim is that by working closely together, the collaborators can elevate each other, and open each other up to a new, but already engaged, audience,” says David. “One of the maxims we make our wine by is, ‘There’s beauty in a lack of technology’ – a bit like playing music on vinyl.”


“Making wine at the Urban Winery Project, we fully embrace going manual, hands-on and small-scale. To keep it simple and safe, we don’t use any electricity in the winemaking process. It’s purely hands-on, feet-on and beautifully analogue.”

As for the sure bet that each drop is as delectable as the last, David quips, “There’s certainly a bit of alchemy involved! Our quality control methods aren’t what you might think. It starts in the vineyard, before the grapes are even picked. We make sure the grapes are grown with the greatest attention to detail and a tight focus on quality. Starting with a phenomenal product means all you have to do is not f*ck it up!”


“At the Urban Winery Project, the philosophy is to make natural wine, with no additives, no yeast and no manipulation. After we wrap the season, the wines come back to our actual winery for maturation and blending. In that environment, we know we can control the end product. A minimal amount of preservative is used at the end of the process to make sure all the hard work is protected between when we put it in bottle, and when you pop the cork,” says David.

As for what this means for traditional winemaking; UWP hasn’t felt any resistance. “The winemaking industry generally is supportive and really generous,” he says.

“[UWP] takes people behind the curtain. Backstage. From that moment on, that person will be a better, more appreciative wine consumer, and that benefits all of us.”


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