International wine writer for London’s Daily Mail, Matthew Jukes, was in Melbourne this week conducting a tasting at Jimmy Watson’s for the upcoming homeless fundraiser, Wine Rules, raising money for St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy.
You would not have been directly exposed to homelessness through your enviable job as wine writer for The Daily Mail. Where did the concept for Wine Rules come from?
While visiting Adelaide a few years ago I was walking through the city parklands and along the River. I was astounded at the number of people sleeping rough. I thought such a prosperous place as Australia should be doing more to sort this problem out and wondered how I could help. I got in touch with the Hutt Street Centre and suggested that the Australian wine industry get behind an event to raise some money to help with the problem. And Touch Wine was born! It has now expanded to Melbourne under the name Wine Rules to raise money for Melbourne’s St Mary’s House of Welcome in Fitzroy.
How does Wine Rules work?
Wine Rules brings together some of the best wineries in Victoria to what they do best, provide wine for the public while they play touch football against other Victorian wineries. The day is about enjoying wine, enjoying music, and most of all having fun to raise awareness and funds for the homeless and disadvantaged of Melbourne. There will be 3 great Melbourne bands, 48 different wines for you to enjoy on the day, 36 games of touch rugby between wineries, 12 celebrities playing throughout the day and 1 massive celebrity touch rugby finale.
In the lead up to the day, all the participating wineries were asked to submit two wines for tasting. I spent a morning tasting the wines and providing notes. I hope you will enjoy my notes and learn more about these wonderful Victorian wines when you taste them on the day.
Do you find the level of homelessness more confronting here when you visit Australia as opposed to home?
Yes I do. The problem seems more visible here – people sleeping out in cosmopolitan areas. I am shocked to see the level of homelessness. And it is so easy to slip into homelessness – two or three things go wrong in your life and the next thing you are homeless. It happens here a lot.
I know some people may find using wine and wineries in a fundraising drive for homelessness an unusual link, given the prevalence of alcoholism amongst the homeless. What do you think?
We are not talking beer and spirits here – we are about fine wines and food – I am an advocate of elegant dining! The wine industry wants to put something back into the community just like other industries – so why not?
What is your personal background in the wine industry?
Twenty three years as a wine buyer, ten years as a journalist, I have written 13 books. My column in the Daily Mail in London has about 9 million readers a week, I also write a weekly piece for MoneyWeek and occasional features for Decanter. I was lucky enough to win the International Wine and Spirit Competition’s Trophy for Wine Communicator of the Year.
Have there been any stand out wines from your tasting today?
Many of these wines will be just right for the day in November – very suitable for a sip after a game of touch footy.
Are there any particular wineries that you are looking forward to seeing battle it out on the touch football field in November?
Yabby Lakes will field a strong team, and the team from Take Care Garnier apparently have already started training. The Rathbone Wine Group have put in two teams which will be very competitive. I’m looking forward to seeing them battle it out on the day.
How can wineries get involved?
Get on to www.winerules.com.au and get your entry in. Its not too late! And no touch football experience is necessary.