Our Rent-A-Row Wine Experience began over 7 years ago, but has quickly become a month and a bit long festival of wine – and has attracted attention from punters and media alike. As we go on, Rent-A-Row is becoming an an increasingly social experience – a true community event. We share the Shiraz Republic’s winery and our expertise while our customers are having fun, learning lots, creating memories and creating great personalised wine with an ever growing cohort of Vitizens. (Citizens of the vine).
An idea is born
The Shiraz Republic’s wine experience started up as a draft listing for Red Balloon in an office in North Melbourne in 2011. Opting to host it on our own website, we received a little bits of interest in the first few years, with a few couples taking up the winemaking experience each year. We also connected with some other budding winemakers during this time – sharing the winery and our knowledge with them along the way. In these early days, Rent-A-Row was a small, side project for President Brian – in addition to managing the vineyard, grape sales and winemaking.
Growth and development
Rent-A-Row has grown dramatically over the past 4 years. Spencer joined the operation at the start of 2015 – and helped our two vitizens to bottle and label their wine with basic, but effective equipment. In 2016 we had 17 vitizens, in 2017 it was 90, 2018 it was 130, and this year we are on track to make over 160 batches of wine with our Rent-A-Row customers.
We’ve been constantly improving the process and enhancing the experience each year – responding to customer feedback as the experience grows and grows every year. With new small-scale crusher-destemmers, vats, presses, bottling lines and more, we reckon the wine our citizens are making is getting better – and they’re looking better too with great custom labels from our on-site label printer. We look forward to the challenge of doing better again this vintage.
This year, we’ll likely reach the ceiling for Rent-A-Row packages, both in terms of bookings we can manage during vintage and the space available in the winery. We’ve also had an opportunity to review the operational costs of Rent-A-Row and what’s clear is that with more numbers, we’ve the need more space, more gear and more staff to deliver the experience we offer. And while we’re covering our bottom line, to continue to improve our wine experience we’ll be needing to raise the package pricing going forward. Up until now, we’ve been pricing our Rent-A-Row packages based on the cost of the wine – but what is evident in our review – is that while the wine is priced very reasonably, we are underselling and not accommodating for the cost of running a great experience involving four different workshops across the year. So with that, we’re excited to see our Rent-A-Row grow and excited to price it in a way that will allow us to improve the experience and the wine going forward into the 2019 vintage and beyond.
Introducing The Shareholder – Community Winemaking
In addition to our original Rent-A-Row packages – an individual batch of wine – we’re looking forward to launching a new package to our range. The Shareholder. The Shareholder Package will offer all the same experiences as Rent-A-Row, except we’ll be inviting customers to join in on a large, communal batch of wine rather than individual batches. With The Shareholder, we aim to keep the same level of fun and learning in the experience, but at a cheaper, entry level price than our Rent-A-Row packages. We’re also excited to launch the Shareholder as it’ll be more available, with no deadline, no need to pre-book months out, instead we’ll be able to adjust the size of the batch to meet the number of customers on the day. Oh, and if you’re not interested in the wine at the end of the year but want to join in the fun of making wine, we’ll be offering day passes to each winemaking workshop throughout the year. These new packages involve the same fun experience of making wine, without the strings attached.
Our first communal winemaking batch will be happening on Sunday March 10th with our Stomping Party, followed by Sunday March 24th for Pressing Day. Day Passes are $75 per person for each workshop, or you can participate in all winemaking dates with a Shareholder Package, $350 for two people and you collect a half dozen of hand-crafted wine at the bottling day in December. Kids are welcome to join each workshop, free of charge.
Rent-A-Row Packages for 2020 will start at $800.
$800 for the Demijohn Winemaker – 25L of your own Shiraz.
$1200 for the Double Demijohn Winemaker – 54L of your own Shiraz.
$3000 for the Barrique Winemaker – 225L of your own barrel-aged Shiraz.