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Tuesday 3 July 2018

Trend-setting Rootstock pulls up stumps after five years

After a wild five-year ride it is time to say goodbye to the groundbreaking Rootstock wine festival. 

Event co-founder Mike Bennie (below) announced today that Australia’s largest "natural" wine festival, has called last drinks.

Bennie, Giorgio De Maria and James Hird said that both Rootstock Sydney and Rootstock Tokyo, slated for November and December 2018, will not now go ahead. 

Rootstock Sydney has been running since 2013. In this time, the trio and an army of volunteers has seen the event grow exponentially.

The festival has shone a spotlight on natural wine culture and sustainability, both here and abroad, and has helped shift the thinking regarding notions of wine and food in Australia. 

In creating the festival, the trio, along with Matt Young and Linda Wiss, helped to put Australia on the ‘natural wine’ map, bringing wine makers from around the country and the world together. 

No matter your views on natural wines, it was a phenomenal success, attracting massive crowds. 

There are a number of factors behind the decision. Bennie said in an email: "As the festival has evolved, so, too, has the natural wine scene. It has broadened its umbrella, wonderfully, but in some cases nefariously. Philosophically this has led to a discomfort regarding some of the more underhanded elements occurring in natural wine, as marketing potentially overtake its original essence. With an event of this scale, it is difficult to keep all the parties happy (including ourselves!)

"A labour of love, the not-for-profit event is an enormous undertaking each and every year. Sadly, despite years of attendance and incredible evolution within the event, there remains a lack of ongoing financial support for the event from both industry and government bodies."

The founders also feel they have exceeded what they set out to achieve with education, awareness and sharing of culture that surrounds natural wine, concepts of sustainability and understanding of how important provenance and process is in produce. 

"Rootstock Sydney’s conclusion comes at a point not only where financial support made the festival difficult, and natural wine has shape-shifted, but on a very positive note, at a natural end-point for its aims and ambitions," Bennie said.

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