Cheers to great wine, food and company at Sydney’s first true urban winery!

The launch of the Secret Foodies Secret Cellar came with plenty of queries from our inquisitive foodies. After all, we don’t often think of wine cellars in the heart of Sydney’s suburbia. Always on the hunt for unique and visually stunning event spaces, Ms Darlinghurst amazed us all, launching her latest event at Urban Winery Sydney.

Nestled in the heart of Precinct 75, Urban Winery first opened its doors in early 2016 in the gentrified streets of St Peters.

Guests were sent the ‘secret meeting spot’ two hours prior to the event. Upon arrival, many marveled at the cavernous industrial space; warm lights gently illuminating a wall of wine barrels. Hidden behind the barrels was a long table with sixty place settings. Candles flickered against a spray of vases overflowing with wild roses and eucalyptus leaves.

They were quickly encouraged to head the bar for their first beverage of the event – a glass of 2016 A.Retief barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc. This wine was noticeably dark and rich in colour, evocative of a buttery Chardonnay. The bar staff explained that this was due to the barrel fermentation of the wine. On the nose, this wine also smelt reminscent of a French Chardonnary. On the palate, however, it was crisp and complex with a light finish. Those typically adverse to a glass of Sauv blanc were loving this particular drop.

Providing the food for the event was the team at Studio Neon. Run by chef Aaron Teece, Studio Neon endeavours to bring like-minded people together in an inspired yet relaxed setting, to share food, wine and to create a memorable experience.

To tantalise everyone’s taste buds, a selection of canapés soon circulated the room. On the menu, the likes of truffle, porcini mushroom and Parmesan popcorn. This came alongside venison sausage rolls with cherry and pink peppercorn chutney. The last of the canapés included the prawn lollipops with squid ink aioli – the aioli offering a striking colour contrast to the blush prawns.

With Ms Darlinghurst away overseas for the duration of this event – Tam, a close friend of Alex’s, stepped up to the plate! She introduced herself to each group, before introducing the crowd to the head winemaker himself, Alex Retief. Alex gave the group important insights into his career as a wine maker, relaying his time spent living in Bordeaux – he explained that it was during his time in France that he started thinking about making his own wine. His wines showcase his philosophy of expressing the vineyard and region’s characteristics and exploring blends and varietals.

With that information under our belts – it was time for guests to be seated and the next wine to be served. Guests sipped on a 2015 A.Retief ‘Field Blend’ red – an amalgamation of nearly every grape variety, including Shiraz, Merlot, Grenache, Tempranillo, Mataro and Petit Verdot. Did you get all that? When Alex was designing this red, he was looking for something fun to match with pizza and summer BBQs.

Complimenting this gorgeous red, a round of entreés. Served on large share-style plates, guests enjoyed roast pumpkin, goats cheese, watercress and spiced seeds as well as wild mushroom risotto, pine nuts and lemon thyme. They proved to be comforting companions to the crunchy bright fruits and intense depth of flavour of the wine itself.

As everyone exchanged names and stories across the long dining table, it was soon time for mains. There were two share-style dishes to choose from – chicken breast, textures of corn puree, popcorn, corn shoots and kernels and Osso bucco with gremolata. To soak up all the juices, a creamy truffle parmesan polenta. This was also complimented by grilled broccolini, served with labna and fennel dukka.

A new course required a new wine, naturally! Alex introduced the group to the next wine on the menu, 2013 A.Retief ‘The Alias’ Mataro – a highly perfumed nose of bright fruit and light spice. Alex explained the way in which the palate is similar to a Pinot with cherry, earth and dried flowers.The higher alcohols Mataro giving length and strength to the palate.

Tam proceeded by next introducing everyone to head Chef at Studio Neon, Aaron. Aaron explained his passion for foraging, an ‘overworked’ term in his books. He denoted the way in which he constantly keeps his eye out for fresh, seasonal produce. He went on to explain that his menu marks a reflection of his passion for locally sourced ingredients and fresh, vibrant produce.

In keeping with the share-style theme, guests soon after enjoyed a selection of grilled plum, crème fraiche, gingerbread crumbs and meringue, raspberries and lemon myrtle cream for dessert. There was one final wine yet to sample, the 2015 A. Retief Petit Verdot. Sourced from the Mokhinui vineyard in the Hilltops region of NSW, the nose offered a bright mix of pot-pouri, violets and red fruit. The palate had the intensity of rhubarb, pomegranate and blueberry with fine chocolate tannins.

With everyone’s bellies full and palates treated to some truly beautiful and unique wines, the event came to a close.

Keen to check out the space for yourself? Urban Winery is a meeting place where epicurious visitors can discover and enjoy wine via blending masterclasses, tours, long lunches and private events.

This Secret Foodies event was so much fun, made all the better by the incredibly hospitable people at Urban Winery Sydney and Studio Neon. If you haven’t yet visited Urban Winery, do yourself a favour and check it out.

Check out photos from the event here:

Secret Foodies also offer private events for 10+ ppl. Check out our packages here:

Urban Winery
6.01/75 Mary St, St Peters NSW 2044
9565 5771, Open Tuesday-Friday 5pm-9pm, Saturday 12pm-9pm, Sunday 12pm-9pm