The Localist

Celebrating the launch of Vintage14 in the Orange vineyards

Outside the sky is a silvery-grey and it’s trying really hard to snow. Meanwhile, about 100 people are standing shoulder-to-shoulder inside the cosy cellar door of Cargo Road Wines celebrating the launch of Vintage 2014 (or #V14 as we know it).

And by celebrating, I mean celebrating being able to drink it. The grapes were harvested during April in the Orange vineyards, and since then we’ve been waiting in anticipation.

Cargo Road Wines vigneron, James Sweetapple, is a man who knows how to throw a good party (and he’s not too bad at making wines either). In between nurturing rows of grapevines and cherry trees, building stone walls and working his magic with the latest vintage, James moonlights as the President of Orange’s FOOD Week. So he’s set up the #V14 launch of his range as a mini-food festival, matching wines to local gourmet fare. Hello Saturday night living in the vineyards, could life get any better?

Skipping through the sleet, the crowds arrive en-masse at half past six. These people have come from as far away as Sydney and Canberra and don’t intend to miss a single second of the evening. The cellar door entrance is warmed up by a rustic potbelly stove, and we’re greeted with a welcoming glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

James has organised twelve tasting stations to be set up inside the cellar door. That’s a table for each #V14 wine variety. Yep. There’s wild mushroom soup paired with Riesling, mussels and Thai curry with Gewurztraminer, venison pies and sausages for the Merlot and Cabernet Merlot, Moscato as a palate cleanser, Barbera to go with the locally-raised carved ham, wheels of cheese to go with the fig and ginger jam to go with the Zinfandel. Listening to the live music in the bottom of the cellar, where they actually make the wine (we’re standing amongst the vats), we turn around and bump into a corner table adorned with turkey canapés and sparkling Zinfandel. And then for dessert we are treated to a rhubarb and apple crumble and the Botrytis Gewurztraminer and Dessert Zin.

Then we stumble out into the snowy, chilly night. With stars lit up over the vineyards and the candlelit pathway before us, we can’t help but think it was pretty much the best Australian version of Christmas we’d ever had. It’s just another Saturday night in Orange, and just another reason to adore this place.




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