If you’re after a boutique Adelaide wine tour experience, look no further than Small Batch Wine Tours.
Matthew Kurko was working for the mining industry and saving pennies to start his own farm café in Colombia when blood borne virus stopped him in his tracks. “It was basically cooking me from the inside,” he says. “It was crazy… I lost my dad and my grandma about two months prior and realised I needed to move home.” After returning to Adelaide, he launched Small Batch Wine Tours and runs private and small group wine tours through the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and Barossa Valley. You won’t find boozed up hen’s parties on Matt’s jaunts. A maximum of six people pile into his Mercedes-Benz V250. “The guys at the dealership tried to sell me a bigger car… more seats, more money but it detracts from what I wanted to do. I wanted to keep it small and intimate. I wanted my guests to be able to connect with the winemakers, the region, and feel a part of something, rather than just another number on a tour.”
Many of the winemakers he visits don’t have a cellar door. “I wanted to create something a bit unexpected for people. I’ve been following Adelaide Review’s Hottest 100 [wine competition] for many years. I guess that was a source of inspiration. I wanted to find these winemakers who were doing things differently. When I started the business, I went around to every single winemaker I could and said, ‘This is what I’m doing, do you want to get involved?’ More often than not they said yes.” Some rolled their eyes.
“They said, ‘We don’t parties and we don’t want people out here getting pissed’. After going through the wines and tasting them I spoke with them, talked to them about their wines and [connected with] the winemakers who were really passionate, loved what they were doing could see I was really serious. People like Charlie Black (The Mysterious Mr Black) to Chris Ringland whose wine sells for up to a couple of hundred dollars a bottle.” It created little relationships. “When people see you’re passionate and mean well the they’ll put you onto other people. It’s been quite humbling to have people I respect as winemakers say, ‘Yep, you’re doing the right thing. We’re happy to have you through’.”
It’s a chance to taste something different, other than a big shiraz. “Say your favourite meal is Chinese and you have Chinese every day for 40 years, by the end of it you’ll be sick of it and you’ll want something else. That’s exactly what some of these winemakers are doing… Damien Tscharke, Josh Pfeiffer, Charlie Black and Tom Shobbrook… these are the guys who are trying to do something different. A big shiraz isn’t great for drinking on a 40-degree day. You want something a bit more smashable, enjoyable and light-hearted.”