Although the Caravan of Courage may be parked safely back in the Hunter to cool down its engine after a mammoth month long tour of the east coast of Australia, the momentum never seems to stop for the six charismatic New Generation Hunter Valley winemakers as last night their very own Nick ‘Dog’ Paterson picked up Winemaker of the Year at the Hunter Legends and Wine Industry awards, one of many prestigious awards the group members have accumulated since forming in 2009 and there will no doubt be a few ‘hair of the Dogs’ needed after this epic effort!
Throughout April and May, the New Generation Hunter Valley winemakers including David Hook, Andrew Thomas, Rhys Eather, Nick Paterson, Mike De Iuliis and Andrew Margan collectively took their contemporary wines to the consumer and trade between Melbourne and Noosa in a series of Pop Up Wine Bars and degustation dinners in an attempt to reach the new generation of wine consumers and dispel rumours that the Hunter is all old-hat and unexciting.
On April 19, the boys took to the road in a 1966 bright green Austin with little more than a Facebook and Twitter account and a bus load of Binnorie Dairy Cheese & Riedel glassware, and travelled north from Melbourne via Sydney (May 11), Newcastle (May 10), Port Macquarie (May 15), Byron Bay (May 16), Brisbane (May 17) and finally reached Noosa on May 18 for the Noosa International Food and Wine Festival where they were heavily featured in the line up of celebrity chefs and foodies.
With sell-out events in nearly all of the ports that they visited, they considered this exercise to not only be a good laugh but also extremely valuable in terms of terrific exposure for their brands, their wines and the Hunter Valley in general. For a sneak peak of what life was like on board the Caravan of Courage, click HERE to view a video put together by Katrina Holden of Sip Your Style…
Andrew “Thommo” Thomas of Thomas Wines, self-nominated spokesperson for the group saw the month long exercise as something that helped ‘sex up’ the image of the Hunter Valley as a whole, and not just their individual brands. “If we can grab the attention of the consumer and trade by doing something a little bit out of the ordinary and have a good time doing it – then everyone’s a winner. Although social media is our main communication tool, it is important that we recognise that we need to go that one step further to connect with people – Win the Ride of Your Life is a great example of that and truly allowed us to engage with new markets and get the existing market excited again”.
The winner for the competition Win the Ride of Your Life, a campaign driven purely by social media where the prize was to come on board the Caravan of Courage between Byron Bay and Brisbane (including flights, accommodation, VIP tickets to Pop Up Events, long lunches and much more!) felt extremely privileged to be a part of all the action. Danielle Kennedy of Camperdown Cellars was the lucky winner and entered because she liked the New Gen concept and the wines produced by the group. “The trip was jam packed with sensational food, outrageously good wines and luxury accommodation, but nothing surpassed the bus ride itself…Six of the Hunter’s finest for company and an iPod full of ‘bus songs’” says Danielle of her adventure “The guys obviously have a shared passion for their region, their work and a great friendship, it was a gift to be a part of it for a couple of days and the hangover of my life was worth every minute and can’t wait go to the Hunter Valley to explore some more!”.
What’s next for the travelling sextet? After the epic month endured of Pop Ups and Peroni a-plenty, all that can be said is #watchthisspace and to expect the unexpected…
The New Generation Hunter Valley winemakers would also like to thank their sponsors including Binnorie Dairy Cheese, Budgy Smuggler, Riedel Australia and Sip Your Style – without their support the Caravan of Courage wouldn’t have been nearly as courageous!