Media Release: 24 April 2023

A talented group of sommeliers at family-owned hospitality group, Solotel, have broadened their skills to winemaking. Six sommeliers have spent the past nine months working closely with some of Australia’s best boutique wineries, including L.A.S Vino, Alpha Box & Dice, Ravensworth and more, to release an exclusive range of limited-edition wines. From 2 May, the wines are available at Solotel venues including Aria, Chiswick, Chophouse, North Bondi Fish, and Opera Bar as well as five of Solotel’s bottle shops including Lil Sis, Golden Sheaf, Clock Hotel and more.


The initiative is spearheaded by Master of Wine and Solotel’s Group Beverage Manager, Annette Lacey. Her brief to the sommeliers was to create a wine ‘made using interesting blends or varietals from classic regions with iconic producers’.


“We have an incredibly talented and growing team of sommeliers at Solotel who jumped at the chance to make a wine,” explains Lacey. “This is a terrific way to encourage their creativity and expand their knowledge and skills to include the complexity of the winemaking process. Professionally, I know the team have really valued the opportunity to build relationships and work closely with great winemakers.”


Head sommelier of Aria, Salvatore Persico, worked with winemaker Bryan Martin of Ravensworth Wines in NSW’s Murrumbateman region to create an elegant and textural Fiano. Aria’s Mikaela Pantlin collaborated with one of Margaret River’s cutting-edge labels, L.A.S (luck, art, and science) Vino and its winemaker, Young Gun of Wine finalist 2018 Nic Peterkin. Together, they created a vibrant and perfumed Grenache – a varietal the region is not typically known for.


Vikki Lou Peng (Aria) and Sam Berketa of McLaren Vale’s Alpha Box & Dice went totally left-field blending meunier, dolcetto and muscat. While Rodrigo Nassif joined forces with Barossa Valley mates - Bruce, Christian, and Josh - of boutique winery Bruno & George to create a Monastrell.


Gundagai NSW is home to Nick Spencer Wines where Chophouse sommelier Paul Sadler and winemaker Nick Spencer made an exceptional Sangiovese Tempranillo. Sadler describes it as ‘simplistic, uncomplicated and smashable’ and a perfect partner to pizza. Finally, Theodore Rutledge (ex-Aria) and organic and minimal intervention McLaren Vale winery, Brash Higgins, collaborated on a cloudy, pithy Chenin Blanc Amphora.


Winemaker Bruce Blackwell, from Barossa’s Bruno & George, says of the experience: “What a pleasure working with Rodrigo and the team at Solotel. It's been a fun and interesting process having a sommelier's perspective involved in the winemaking. The opportunity has allowed us to combine our expertise in winemaking with their spectacular knowledge of food paring to create a truly unique and delicious product. We're proud of this wine and feel people will enjoy it because it’s a real twist on a Barossa staple”.


From 2 May, the wines are available on wine lists at Aria; Chiswick; Chophouse; North Bondi Fish; The Clock, Surry Hills; Golden Sheaf, Double Bay; The Sackville, Rozelle; The Abercrombie, Chippendale; Opera Bar; and Paddo Inn. They are also available to purchase in seclect Solotel bottleshops: Lil Sis at The Abercrombie, Chippendale; Golden Sheaf, Double Bay; The Sackville, Rozelle; The Clock, Surry Hills; and Darlo Bar. Wines are priced from $30.