After two years on ice, the world’s biggest pinot party – Pinot Palooza – is making a triumphant comeback for its 10th anniversary.
The team behind Pinot Palooza went into survival mode when COVID-19 shelved their events indefinitely in 2020, but festival creator Dan Sims said he is ready to party like never before when the iconic wine festival returns this May.
Sims said that despite the challenges of the past couple of years, the Pinot Palooza team never lost sight of the long game.
“There is no denying the past couple of years have been rough – our entire existence relies on mass gathering,” he explained. “I think what got us through is our belief that people, by their nature, love to come together and experience something bigger than themselves.”
When he was planning his very first Pinot Palooza for a few hundred people at Melbourne’s Ormond Hall venue back in 2012, Sims says he could never have dreamed that the event would turn into a global phenomenon, spanning 10 years, 14 cities and 6 countries. Across its 50 past outings, Pinot Palooza has seen over 550 producers pour more than 175,000 bottles of pinot noir, with a total of 65,000 tickets sold, worldwide. This year, close to 4000 punters are set to descend on Melbourne alone.
Pre-Palooza, the award-winning sommelier and wine communicator had a hunch that the days of “death by masterclass” wine events run by “old men” were numbered and that a new generation of wine enthusiasts with an appetite for fun was hungry for something different.
“Back then, wine tastings were a pretty arrogant affair and there was often an unspoken hierarchy that precluded a lot of people from the conversation – especially women,” Sims said. “Pinot Palooza was born because we knew there was so much more that we could do to make wine tasting fresh, accessible and above all, fun. Ten years later, think I can confidently say we’ve achieved that and helped change the way people experience wine.”
Sims says that the event’s lengthy hiatus gave him and his team a rare chance to reflect and refresh the way they operate, which will mean some new changes to this year’s events – the biggest of which is relocating the Melbourne event from the large, open format of Carlton’s Royal Exhibition Buildings to operate across a mix of indoor and outdoor areas at Port Melbourne events space, The Timber Yard.
As always, there will be a considered food and bar lineup in each location, with names including NAMA, Taco Truck and Burn City Smokers confirmed for Melbourne, with more to be announced soon.
The 2022 festival will also welcome an all-new ticketing format that will see pinot fans choose from one of multiple session times available over two days in all four cities. Sims says the new format is designed to not only better manage crowds and density considerations but to offer punters a more personal interaction with the festival’s lineup of over 70 leading pinot noir producers.
“Our audience keeps telling us that Pinot parting aside, they really love being able to have quality conversations about wines they like with the people who made them,” said Sims. “This element is integral to what makes Pinot Palooza special, and our new set-up is all about creating more of these moments for our audiences.”
This year’s events will also welcome a dedicated Tasmanian wine and produce hub – the first region specific precinct of its kind at the festival. Presented with Trade Tasmania in partnership with Wine Tasmania, the precinct will feature wine, cider, spirits and cheese from over 20 Tasmanian producers.
Wine Tasmania CEO Sheralee Davies said: “It’s been a while between drinks and Tasmania’s wine producers are looking forward to showcasing their latest pinot noir – in still and bubbly form – alongside other delicious Tasmanian produce at these
“The support of Tasmanian wine lovers around the country has been phenomenal over the past two years and this will be a great chance for them to catch up in person with their favourite wine producers from across the island.”
Tickets for sessions across Melbourne (May 6-7), Brisbane (May 20-21) and Sydney (June 17-18) festivals are on sale now via pinotpalooza.com.au