I am delighted to report that on the 13th November last year Touch Wine (the sixth event in seven years) happened in the parklands in Adelaide and a wonderful day was enjoyed by all. After a phenomenal contest the team holding the trophy at the end of the day was the Angove Touch Ups (for a second year running)! This event raises money for The Hutt Street Centre in Adelaide and the teams, the raffle, the bar, the amazing wine tasting, the Wine Wall and even two magnums of first class South African red wine autographed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu (himself an unstinting supporter of homeless charities) raised somewhere in the region of AUD $65,000. This is an incredile effort bearing in mind the current economic climate. A week later, on the 20th November, Wine Rules in Melbourne also brought the house down and it raised a magical AUD $45,000 for St Mary’s House of Welcome. The Wine Rules winning team was called the Wild Bunches from Mount Langi Ghiran. This was another brilliant day of food, wine, music and comedy. I cannot wait to do it all over again in November this year. See below for some superb photos showing the colour and excitement of these events. If you would like to be a part of either event then please see the website details at the bottom of my article below.
My thanks goes to everyone who helps with these events especially the winery teams, the sponsors, the committees and the volunteers. They are the hardest working people I have ever met.
TOUCH WINE 2011
WINE RULES 2011
My Touch Wine / Wine Rules Vision
By Matthew Jukes
I have worked in the wine business for twenty-five years and for the last decade I have been lucky enough to travel to Australia many times to taste wine because of my job as a national journalist and author based in the UK. My passion for Aussie wine is unquantifiable – Australia is, quite simply, the most exciting winemaking country in the world and I believe that the wines are the finest value on the planet. The reason for this is the Aussies themselves – no one else has such a perfect ‘play-hard-work-hard’ ethic. And for any of you who have met me – you will know that this is exactly what I do, too!
Now, Australians are used to travelling great distances around the globe and so are us foreign wine journos. I don’t know how you combat jet lag, but I probably fly long haul four or five times every year and that means that I spend around a quarter of every year in some degree of time-zone altered weirdness. My way of tackling those mind- and body-numbing feelings is to walk. Every time that I land in Adelaide it’s the crack of dawn (of course, for me coming from the UK, it is late evening – and I am still buzzing!). The hotel room is not ready to be occupied until midday and the fun and games usually starts soon after that with one winemaker or another, but until then I have to do something and walking is the best way for me to clear my head. At this early hour the shops are not open, so I drop my bags and set off on a route march. The weird thing about Adelaide City is its grid system. You eventually find yourself in parkland no matter which way you turn – beautiful, open spaces, so close to the city centre. On closer inspection though, these manicured gardens were home to a shocking number of people sleeping rough. Was this a crack in the shiny veneer of this fair city? Judging by the number of lonely looking, vulnerable souls that I came across on that first chilly morning, it was a veritable chasm. Later that week I meet up with Marty Edwards, from The Lane Winery, and I told him about my concerns. It felt strange that such a beautiful city should have such a grubby underbelly. I felt angry and I wanted to do something about it. I have often felt that I owed Adelaide, and Australia for that matter, a debt of gratitude for welcoming me into its big, fat, winey heart so enthusiastically, and so instead of choosing any old charity I made a decision to try to do something to help out with these obvious homeless issues. It’s weird how things fall into place so easily sometimes. I told Marty that my three main loves were food, wine and rugby – combine these and I could be onto something. He said that he played ‘Touch Footy’ and he explained the rules to me and pointed out that it was a mixed sport! I recalibrated my priorities immediately (now four was the magic number) to include ladies, too! We had a plan, and not only that, it just so happened that one of his team-mates was Danielle Bayard –the person in charge of raising funds for the Hutt St Centre for homeless right in the centre of town. This was too good to be true and so I rang her to arrange a meeting immediately. Dan and I met up over a bottle of Redbank Sunday Morning Pinot Gris (I seem to remember) and I pitched an idea to her for a wine tasting event, with winery-sponsored Footy teams going head to head in the very parklands that I had wandered through. She said yes on the spot, perhaps with no idea of what she was getting herself into! I then disappeared off to the other side of the world and Dan and her team of volunteers set up a committee to start getting the initiative off the ground. I phoned around a load of wineries to rally support and in our inaugural year we had twenty-four teams battling to raise the Trophy. It rained like mad, we all pulled hamstrings, we had a brilliant time and Sod’s Law came into play (or perhaps it was serendipity), because Marty’s team, ‘Off the Leash’, won the cup. That was back in 2005. Despite the monsoon weather we raised over AUD$50,000 and we had the support of countless celebrities, a load of Olympians and the whole of the South Australian wine scene. With the help of Portavin, we ratcheted the idea up a few notches and came back in 2006 with double the number of teams and raised nearly double the dosh! 2007 and 2008 were triumphs, too. With interstate teams zipping in and more and more people asking to be a part of this incredible event it is simply amazing to think back to its rather humble beginnings. I am told it is the biggest charity event in SA – this is gob-smacking. We have had politicians pull on shirts and even relished in the privilege of having a world class sports commentator call the final. Everywhere you look on the day there are people having fun. Massive global wine brands rub shoulders with one man band wineries and we are all, for one day at least, focussed on doing the most we possibly can to raise consciousness for this extremely important charity. It is right that the event is held where these guys sleep, it is right that they themselves steward the event and it is right that we all make a very loud noise and celebrate our industry’s enormous efforts together on the field of Footy.
Touch Wine is now in its seventh year and we are all so impressed with the efforts that the South Australian wine trade has made to continue to work so hard to keep the momentum up. In November 2009 a horrible heat wave struck Adelaide with temperatures over 40C and we had to abandon the event – this was a very sad time. A year of hard work was put on hold and we decided to move Touch Wine to April 2010 (after vintage). This was sadly the only event that I have missed, as it coincided with the en primeur week in Bordeaux and other European commitments, but the teams all turned up and played their hearts out and it was another massive day out. Such is the spirit of everyone involved and the never-say-die attitude which we all try to keep in tip top condition we are determined that it will be bigger and better than ever every time that we attend this event. More sponsors come on board every year and bigger, global names are starting to hear about our tremendous initiatives. Touch Life happened in the Hunter Valley in April 2008, too, with the wine trade, banking and mining fraternities coming together for a magnificent weekend of wine and Touch Footy. Ireland has also hosted Touch Wine during the Wine Trade Fair week and this event is organised by the brilliant Wine Australia Ireland hero John McDonnell. Melbourne hosted the inaugural Wine Rules in November 2010 and over $20,000 was raised for St Mary’s House of Welcome. St Mary’s own Pamela Whiting and Nikki Brown are two of the most dedicated fundraisers you cope hope to meet and in November 2011 Wine Rules raised around $45000. Touch Wine managed to notch up in excess of $65,000, too, and so to date these various homeless initiatives have raised somewhere in the region of $750,000. It is my aim that by the end of 2012, with Touch Wine in Adelaide, Wine Rules in Melbourne and hopefully another Touch Wine initiative in Canberra and South Africa we can get close to the magic million!
Matthew Jukes – Founder and Patron of Touch Wine – the annual touch footy / wine tasting charity event in aid of the Hutt Street Centre for Homeless in Adelaide (see – www.touchwine.com.au ) & http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVDLRhNduuo and Wine Rules – the annual touch footy / wine tasting charity event held in Melbourne in aid of St Mary’s House of Welcome (see – www.winerules.com.au ). The next events are on 11 November in Adelaide and 18 November in Melbourne 2012 – see the websites for more information.