We caught up with Jules van Costello to find out more about his latest crowd-funding project, Cult Wine, a new wine retail concept online and offline.
Jules van Costello, sommelier and drinks writer, and Asher Boote, chef and restaurateur, have created a showroom in Wellington and online outlet for those that love wine, love discovering new wines and think about what they drink.
They started the crowd funding drive to encourage people to try our packages as well as sign up for longer subscriptions. As well as subscription packages they also offer some awesome one-off rewards.
But hurry, the campaign closes this Thursday, this is your last chance snap up one or more of the bundles up over on Pledge Me.
Hi Jules, thanks a lot for your time. Let’s get into it…
What do you do?
Well my email signature is no fewer than 12 lines but food and drinks professional and writer sums it up best. So, professional lush. My business card says ‘Wine Director’ if I need to be fancy pants.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
What I do varies on any given day. I spend about one day a week either writing or working on writing projects (I’ve currently got two books on a go – the update of BREWED and Aotearoa Nouveau), a bit of time working with restaurants and trying to sell wines from the Dirtoir Ltd portfolio (we sell a few wines from small, family owned vineyards who don’t have the time to sell their own wines in the lower North).
I also occasionally work front of house at Hillside Kitchen and from the end of next week will be at Cult Wine for four days a week. I also do two or three public speaking (usually about wine, beer or food) every month. I’m busy.
Number of years in the wine industry
I’ve been working in the restaurant industry since I was 14 and professionally with wine since I was 20 so that’s an even dozen years – I didn’t work full-time with wine the whole time but I’ve always derived some of my income from it.
Washing dishes at the Steak Out in Havelock North the day after my 14th birthday.
If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
Oooh… You should probably ask my wife Lauren, she is much better with anthropomorphic descriptions of wine. I’m going to try and refrain from being too clever or too literal in my answer.
OK. I guess I’d be a South African Rhone blend… In particular Duncan Savage’s Follow The Line (also the most exciting wine I tried last year). A respectful of tradition but looking forward. Deceptively intense, an outspoken introvert, charmingly misanthropic. (Also failed at trying not to be too clever).
You have crowd-funded projects before, what are the biggest challenges?
Keeping the momentum up is the hardest thing. Being loud and consistent without being obnoxious. And staying positive.
This is my fourth campaign (Brewed, Aotearoa Nouveau, Budburst and now Cult Wine) and the first that we successfully funded before the last week, so staying positive and not chewing off a limb in anxiety was pretty tough.
What makes Cult Wine different?
Because I’m a sommelier and my business partner Asher is a chef and restaurateur, we look at wine with a different lens. We are passionate about supporting small producers and celebrating wines that challenge the status quo.
We want everything to be interesting, amazing value and super drinkable – there are so many wines that are only often seen in restaurants (most retailers find them too difficult to sell) so we want to help people find these wines and help the producers of them shine.
When will the showroom be open?
We are opening in the next few weeks. We are going to be open from 10am – 6pm Wednesday and Thursday, from 10am – 8pm on Friday and from midday – 4pm on Saturday. But we will also be open for events.
Share a fact about yourself that only a few know
I love musicals. I have had the Hamilton soundtrack playing more or less non-stop for the past three weeks. And I’m tone-deaf, I try to sing but 95% of the time its awful. The other 5% (or so I’m told) it’s amazing. But I certainly can’t predict which it will be on any given day.
Things you still want to do
Where do I start… There is a lot of the wine world that I’m yet to explore but in particular Piedmont, California and the Northern Rhone. But I think if I could do one thing it would be to go to Blue Hill at Stone Barns.
Last book read
I’ve been driving a lot recently and been listening a lot to audiobooks. I have to say I loved The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu, a very fresh, different science fiction story told through a Chinese rather than western lens.
Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
Dan Keeling – the editor of Noble Rot, a magazine we import into New Zealand. He sounds awesome and extremely interesting. Or Fergus Henderson, owner of St John in London and the chef that popularised nose to tail eating. And I want to drink ludicrously expensive craft beer with David Chang, owner of the Momofuku group.
Thanks Jules. Find out more about Cult Wine and the campaign here!