Brian Spencer, his son Spencer Page and dog Annie at the Shiraz Republic, their winery and brewery in the Heathcote wine region. Photo: Paul JeffersFancy serving your own custom bottle of wine at your next dinner party? You could name it after yourself or perhaps your dog – Quin’s Shiraz, perhaps?
Nanjing Night Net

For a handful of Victorians who appreciate a boutique drop but don’t have the time – or the millions of dollars to set up their own vineyard – they are jumping on the sharing economy bandwagon and renting vines.

The Shiraz Republic, located in Toolleen, in the state’s north, is one of a handful of wineries that allow wine enthusiasts to rent vines and then have their grapes turned into their own signature bottle of plonk.

The business runs a bit like ride-sharing company Uber or rent-a-home business Airbnb – it’s a temporary rent that allows someone to experience something that is normally out of their reach. And while many people fantasise about owning their own vineyard, the the cost and hard work behind the dream makes it impossible for all but the biggest diehards.

Spencer Page, who runs the winery, originally ran the company as a traditional family business but quickly realised that offering non-winemakers a taste of making their own wine brought the customer closer to the action.

“It started with a couple of people who couldn’t grow their own wine but wanted to, and then we started to sell grapes to home winemakers and it all went from there,” he says.

“The appeal is mostly to find out how the operation of a winery works and how to make wine themselves but it’s also a fun and social thing,” he says.

Some customers are happy to leave the everyday work to Page and simply wait for their shipment of wine to arrive on their doorstep, while others are more hands-on, even bringing their own fertiliser to help grow their grapes.

“During harvest, it feels like a big family holiday, because everyone is working together and talking and learning,” he says. “It’s a really social thing we do over three or four weeks.”

People who rent a vine can expect about 25 bottles of plonk from their investment per season.

Page says that like the ethical food movement, which demands to know where food is produced and know that workers are being paid properly, growing your own grapes and making wine gives customers plenty of control over what they drink and serve their friends.

“It’s about being more involved and this is a good way to do that,” Page says.

Other wineries that rent their vines include ones in the Macedon Ranges and the Adelaide Hills, and it’s a trend that has taken off overseas, too. In the winemaking centre of France, Bordeaux, a winery also rents vines and has called itself … Shiraz Republic.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.