Barhop: Cult of the Vine

The concrete and blondwood interior of Cult of the Vine in Brunswick. Photo: Pat Scala MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 13: The interior of Cult of the Vine in Brunswick on January 13, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Pat Scala/Fairfax Media) Photo: Pat Scala
Nanjing Night Net

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 13: The interior of Cult of the Vine in Brunswick on January 13, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Pat Scala/Fairfax Media)

Cult of the Vine Address 7 Florence Street, Brunswick, 03 9383 1542 Open Tue-Sun 11am-9pm

It doesn’t get more “Brunschic” than the Commons, a much-admired sustainable apartment block perched on the Anstey train platform. The 24-apartment eco-village proudly has no car park or aircon or tumble dryers, but does have its own bees, solar panels, and shared vegie patch on the roof. It’s very The Secret Life Of Us: Northside.

Now the building has its own sharply curated wine store and bar on the ground floor, with a large communal table for residents and passers-by to pull up a stool and enjoy a glass.

Owner Brad Lucas has a background in furniture design (he built all the cabinets) and was a sommelier under Harry & Frankie’s Tom Hogan at the Lake House in Daylesford before starting his own content agency, Studio Glass Half Full. He’s been talking about opening his own wine shop for years. “It got to the stage where I had to just do it or stop talking about it,” he says.

The concrete and blondwood space is like a gallery of over 160 handsomely labelled wines. About 90 per cent of them are organic, and 50 per cent are Australian, along with many from boutique European producers. Lucas is happy to open most of them for tasting, with glasses of wine ranging from $10 to $35. You’re also welcome to open any full bottle with a $10 corkage fee, and enjoy Lucas’ expert commentary and excellent glassware.

Perhaps try Shobbrook Wines Giallo, a natural South Australian sauvignon blanc that’s as cloudy as apple juice and dangerously easy to drink, or a glass of salmon pink pinot tache from Ballarat’s Eastern Peake, which is everything you want on a summer night: clean, crisp, dry and savoury.

The food offering is ultra simple – briney olives, salted cashews, roasted almonds or nicely spiced mixed nuts for $5 a ramekin. The more adventurous can crack a hard-boiled egg for $1, one of the more curious bar snacks in town. “I’m willing to go on record,” Lucas says, “and say that there isn’t a wine that doesn’t match with a hard-boiled egg.”

Drink this … Eastern Peake Pinot Tache, $13 a glass.

Eat this … Mixed spiced nuts, $5.

Know this … Another sustainable building, The Nightingale, is in the works across the road.

Say this … “I’ve got my name down for the next apartment that comes up.”

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