23 February 2024

Contentious Character to open urban winery venue at Dairy Road

| Lucy Ridge
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Wine glasses 'cheers' with cheeseboard in background.

Contentious Character is opening an ‘urban winery’ in Fyshwick. Photo: Contentious Character.

Wamboin winery Contentious Character is taking over the cafe space previously occupied by As Nature Intended in Fyshwick for a cafe and restaurant celebrating their conversation-worthy wines.

Contentious Character director Ben Jarrett says that the winery has been eager to move to the city.

“Our urban winery concept has been in the pipeline for a while. We did a test pop-up at the Canberra Centre in 2022 that went really well,” he told Region.

“The Dairy Road precinct feels aligned to the concept we’ve been working on, so when this site came up, we just went for it!”

Man sits in tractor

Contentious Character Director Ben Jarrett. Photo: Contentious Character.

Dairy Road is fast becoming something of a foodie hub, with Capital Brewing Co, Big River Distilling, Canteen, Jasper & Myrtle Chocolates and Lonsdale Street Roasters all making their home in the precinct.

The urban winery will offer much more than just wine: they plan to be open for coffee and pastries in the morning and for lunch and after-work drinks seven days a week. Dinner is slated for Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.

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Ben says that anyone who has been to their Wamboin winery will be familiar with the style of food and service they provide.

“We definitely pride ourselves on those modern Australian flavours using fresh, seasonal produce. The menus change in line with the seasons,” he explained.

“We will also be offering some grab-and-go options for workers in the area.”

Glasses of wine and cheeseboard on wine barrels.

After work, drinks are on the menu at the new urban winery. Photo: Contentious Character.

The goal of the urban winery is to bring the winery experience into the city. The team is still hoping people will take the time to drive out to the Contentious Character winery at Wamboin for an occasional destination meal, but the new venue will make it easier to enjoy the cellar door experience any day of the week.

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The space will look very different from As Nature Intended, but Ben said they’re holding off on a full refit of the venue. As The Molonglo Group (which owns the precinct) plans to redevelop Dairy Road in the future, the urban winery will shift and change in line with the area’s redesign.

Dairy Road housing

Artist’s render of future housing at the Dairy Road precinct. Photo: Molonglo Group.

In the meantime, Ben says customers can expect a “playful and quirky” vibe, in line with the irreverent branding of the Contentious Character wines.

Contentious Character faced financial difficulties in 2023 and went into voluntary administration before moving forward with a restructured business. Two partners left the business, but director Ben Jarrett and chief winemaker Jeremy Wilson stayed on board.

The site was vacated by As Nature Intended earlier this year, and Contentious Character plans to open sometime in April.

Visit the Contentious Character website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date with their new urban winery venue. Visit the Dairy Road website or follow Dairy Road on Instagram.

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