Pinot Palooza_Peter

Pinot Palooza the annual wine festival that has put a modern spin on classic wine tasting, is travelling around Australia from August to October and will also head across the Tasman Sea for its first stint in New Zealand.

Pinot Palooza is turning five this year and has established itself as one of Australia’s fastest growing wine festivals, with producers from all over the country getting involved in an event that will land in Adelaide and Perth in August; Auckland in September; and Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane this October.

Dalrymple winemaker, Pete Caldwell, jumped on the Pinot Palooza bandwagon at its inception and continues to enjoy the rowdy ride.

“Some tastings I have been part of can be almost clinical, and designed for an older and more conservative crowd,” Pete said.

“Whereas Palooza is done differently – the number one priority for the organisers is to make a fun and engaging event and the wine is the secondary focus.

“There’s music, food, beer and of course Pinot Noir from around Australia and New Zealand. “Pinot Palooza has an uplifting vibe with a younger crowd, who are very easy going. Despite this the event still has an edge of sophistication to it – much like the wine it celebrates.”

Pete said the crowd at Palooza don’t take themselves too seriously, and enjoy dancing to the music and socialising with each other, as much as they love chatting to the winemakers about Pinot Noir.

“Palooza is also an opportunity for wine-makers to catch up, get away from the vineyards and try each other’s drops.

“I know a lot of Kiwis from when I worked over there and it’s nice to find out what other people are doing.

“All the wine-makers have a really good relationship.”

If you’re planning to head to Pinot Palooza in your capital city, here are a few wineries you should wander over to, beginning of course with Dalrymple…


This year Pete and his team will be at Pinot Palooza armed with Pinosity sweatbands and gym headbands, because drinking Pinot Noir is hard work, right?

Pete said the vintages that will be available for tasting at each event are the wines that are available for purchase in that state.

“We want people to taste the wines that they are able to buy,” he said.

“Generally it will the 2013 or 2014 single sites and Cottage Block Pinot Noir, the 2014 Tasmanian blend and possibly the 2015.” (released in September)

Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong

When given three words to describe Pinot Palooza, Melissa Gjergja, marketing manager at Port Phillip Estate and Kooyong, replied “La folie douce” – French for sweet madness or letting one’s hair down.”

This year the Mornington Peninsula wineries will participate in all five Australian events.

Melissa said the wines for tasting would be the 2015 Quartier Pinot Noir, 2014 Massale by Kooyong Pinot Noir and 2013 Port Phillip Estate Balnarring Pinot Noir – although the complete cellar door list will be available for purchase.

“Pinot Palooza is a great opportunity to collaborate as an industry around one varietal that we are all passionate and proud of…and engage with consumers whilst having an awful lot of fun,” she said.

“It’s a contemporary re-interpretation of a classic tasting event.”

TarraWarra Estate

TarraWarra Estate located in the heart of Victoria’s Yarra Valley will be at Pinot Palooza events in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

General manager and winemaker, Clare Halloran, said Pinot Palooza always has a great feel to it.

“The event is well organised and gives people great access to some of the best Pinots coming out of Australia.

“This year we will have our 2014 Reserve Pinot Noir and our 2015 Estate Pinot Noir available for purchase and tasting.

“We will also have a sneak preview of a new wine, our 2015 Q Block Pinot Noir.”

Grasshopper Rock

New Zealand’s Grasshopper Rock is one of the world’s southern-most vineyards and is dedicated exclusively to Pinot Noir.

“After travelling to Australia for the event in 2012, 2014 and 2015, I’d describe Pinot Palooza as ‘heaven for Pinot’,” Phil Handford, the winery’s managing director, said.

“With the expansion of Pinot Palooza to New Zealand this year we are staying at home and will be at the Auckland event on September 3.

“I am looking forward to having the best New Zealand Pinots available all together in one place.”

The 2013 and 2014 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir will be available for purchase and tasting, and after the 2013 vintage was described by the Pinot Shop, as “aromatic and elegant yet with intense blackcurrant/blackberry flavours, jubey, syrupy, ultra smooth,” we are lining up to try some!

Ata Rangi

Located at the southern end of New Zealand’s North Island, Ata Rangi, is a small New Zealand winery with a big reputation for Pinot Noir.

The winery has been involved in Pinot Palooza from day dot and will this year exhibit in Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland.

Head winemaker, Helen Masters, describes Pinot Palooza as a wine tasting with attitude, flavour and funk.

“We love catching up with like-minded wineries and engaging with folk who love Pinot Noir,” she said. “With the expansion of Pinot Palooza to New Zealand, I’m looking forward to seeing our country’s winemakers engaging in such a diverse and all-encompassing style of wine event,” she said.

This year the 2014 Ata Rangi Pinot and 2015 Crimson Pinot Noir will be available for tasting.

If we have tempted you to take your taste buds to Pinot Palooza, find out more information and book your tickets here.