In 2014, Cam Nicol discovered a wine fermenter under his house. He got his winemaker mate Alex Byrne along, and then a whole lot more mates, to make wine. In June 2016, they opened the doors to Melbourne’s first people-powered winery.
|Business type||Bar and winery|
|In Moreland since||2016|
Membership-based winery where members
make wine, wine bar open to the public
The winery is called Noisy Ritual, and it’s located on vibrant Lygon Street in Brunswick East. It’s also a cellar door, wine bar, event and performance space, sometimes pop-up, and a micro-shop where people can purchase the label’s wines.
Noisy Ritual and its members make an annual vintage of around 12 varietals including a sparkling chardonnay, a shiraz, a pinot noir and a pinot gris.
An annual fee enables members to attend workshops and participate in the entire winemaking process, from grape to glass. They receive six bottles from the vintage to take home, and a whole lot more knowledge and experience about the winemaking process than when they started out.
It’s all about demystifying the winemaking process and creating a community, says Cam.
“Alex is a professional winemaker, and my background is in music industry and running events. We decided to go into business when we realised that there was potential to grow a community around winemaking.”
In the beginning the pair were confident they had a great business idea, but they lacked enough capital to bring it to fruition on their own. So, they crowdfunded their first vintage through online crowdfunding campaign platform, Pozible and raised enough money to buy fruit and barrels, to rent a space to make the vintage in, and to create a popup bar.
It also helped to create and grow people’s awareness of Noisy Ritual, and to build the community and brand that are an important part of Noisy Ritual today.
Over the years, the pair have expanded their offerings. For example, in January 2019 they put a modest kitchen onsite, and employed a part-time chef so that customers could enjoy a bite with their drinks. Their wines are stocked by independent retailers and bars and restaurants in Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat, and they’ve installed an overhead PA system so that they can host ticketed gigs for musicians and the like.
The pair had “day jobs” while they built the Noisy Ritual brand and identity; now it is their day job. They also employ three full timers, along with a handful of part timers and casuals.
“The juggle of trying to manage a growing business can be challenging at times. It can be hard to know when to take the plunge and take people on. We’ve learned that it’s usually when your mental health starts to suffer and there aren’t enough hours in the day!”
Images courtesy of Noisy Ritual