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September 24, 2015

Bye, bye, bye bye to the quintessential small bar – Cork Wine Café

James Erskine of Jauma has created a special edition wine to mark the end of an era as a Gouger Street establishment shuts its doors.

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  • Pictures and words: Joshua Fanning

Called a café because it wasn’t allowed to be a bar back when it opened in 2008, Cork Wine Café is the latest victim of the rampant homogenisation of one of Adelaide’s premiere eat streets.

CityMag felt the writing was on the wall back when Wilsons Organics was moved on to make way for blue chip tenant – The Commonwealth Bank.

Even the cupcake wunderkinds BTS who moved in next door to Cork couldn’t balance the books this year and recently shuttered their Gouger Street operations.

When Cork owners Travis and Michelle Tausend sent out the sad news they would not be renewing their lease in November, we were not surprised but we did have a very heavy heart thinking of all the delicious and convenient wine times we’d had and were no longer going to have there. 


It’s not all thanks to Papa Rich, Pepper Lunch and Krispy Kreme. Travis and Michelle are moving on for reasons other than rent. They’re grasping new opportunities they’ve created – like Travis’ own wine label TT (you should definitely grasp a glass of his new riesling asap) and Michelle’s online bottle shop Brix where you’ll continue to be able to purchase their incredible selection of wonderful wine vibes.

For James Erskine of Jauma, it was a melancholy moment too.

“They were ahead of the times in so many ways,” says James.

Visiting the home of Jauma in Basket Range, CityMag is enveloped in the winemaker’s world.

It’s an incredible constellation of connections as he pieces together key moments in his own genesis: founding the Sommeliers Association in Adelaide, attempts to stem and reverse the brain drain, judging at the brilliant Hot 100 wine show, collaborating with the likes of Tom Shobrook, Anton Von Klopper, Sam Hughes and Fiona Wood, playing music to wine in eggs, making music to sell with wine and thumbing his nose at the stiff upper lip of wine in Australia.

“Before natural wine was a term here in Australia, Cork was doing it,” says James.

“When we were driving around the country with two 500 litre barrels of wine, creating tumult in the industry – telling people that, ‘wine could be anything you wanted it to be’, Travis and Michelle were onto it.”

Cork Wine Café were the first to say yes to James and his fellow fruity wine types’ idea of putting a 23-litre glass demijohn full of wine topped with olive oil as a preserver on the bar and serving from it by the glass “Italian style”.

And so when Michelle rang James recently to ask whether he had any of the new vintage ready so they could sell one of their favourite winemakers in Cork’s final days, James said yes. Even though he was lying.

“Nothing is ready to go out yet,” says James of the new Jauma vintage. “So I thought, let’s make something special, especially for Cork and Travis and Michelle.”

The wine, undefined by variety but full of Jauma’s-almost-trademarkable fun, sits snug under crown seal and will be labeled and ready to consume with revelry this weekend.


Cork Wine Café will remain open through to November this year – so do drop in for a drink while you can.

Without a name but sporting some salient lyrics from a song James heard recently, this wine is about love. Love for what we create together as a society. Love for people. Love for everyone who wanders in out of the cold (or to escape the heat) and feels welcome taking a seat at the bar. Love for the little bar in the city that feels like home.


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