OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO HOSPITALITY Rootstock
Though it was ostensibly focused on natural wine, the not-for-profit Rootstock festival, which was started in Sydney in 2013 by Mike Bennie, Giorgio De Maria, James Hird, Linda Wiss and Matt Young, was elastic enough to draw together food and art from Indigenous communities and from Georgia, to broaden Australian drinkers’ understanding of beer and sake, raw-milk cheese and heirloom livestock. All about collaboration and creative mutation, it went on the road to Melbourne and Tokyo, and became a highlight of the global calendar for destination drinkers. It crowdfunded Indigenous agriculture through the Gurandgi Munjie project, and last year, in what turned out to be its final outing, it bottled a brandy distilled from the wine collected from the previous festival’s spit buckets in the name of addressing waste. It showed the food and wine community that Australian drinkers are much more adventurous than they’d previously thought, and it reminded everyone that wine is, after all, supposed to be fun. It changed the conversation about wine in Australia, but for its organisers, Rootstock’s big achievement, beyond sharing knowledge and passion, was the building of a community. Wine comes to life when it brings together people, sparking dialogue between farmers and artists, cooks and producers, professionals and the public, the dreamers and the doers. Here’s to you, Rootstock.
From left: Rootstock founders Matt Young, Mike Bennie, Giorgio De Maria and James Hird. All dressed by Harrolds.