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Good Mates’ Wine Club

Written by Paul Bateman

On being mates and making time to build a thing together

Iam a member of the Good Mates’ Wine Club. There are five of us in the GMWC: my brother and me, Danno, Statz and Clogs.

There were six of us when we formed in 2011, but a bloke resigned within 18 months. Thereafter, we talked at length about admitting new members but could never bring ourselves to do it.

Five is enough. And we’re good together. We are like a band that over time has found its collective groove.

Whereas once we cloaked our meetings in a semi-formal suit of process and procedure, now we riff off one another in a more instinctive fashion.

We meet in Melbourne three times a year (four, until recently). The dates are set miles in advance.

Each year includes a field trip, a dinner and a gathering in the city at which we sample wine and hear from a guest. One member flies in from New South Wales.

We have a club website, a logo, letterhead, a ‘founding document’ and club property including glassware, decanters and engraved bottle openers. We’re not mucking around.

Wine makers, wine writers and wine store proprietors have graced our table. We took a class together on detecting wine faults.

We’ve travelled to cellar doors on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges, Goulburn Valley and Bendigo regions.

We flew to Tasmania last year and spent two days on both sides of the Tamar River, downing delicate and complex sparkling wines, Pinot Noir and aromatic white wines.

Early in that trip, a cellar door attendant – alive to our mischief and the elevated nature of our collective undertaking – produced a 10-year-old, late-disgorged sparkling wine and filled our glasses free-of-charge.

I count that wine, and that moment, among the best I’ve known. Ever.

To belong to a group of fair and like-minded mates, each committed to learning and sharing the infinite pleasures of wine, is a powerful and pleasing thing.

Together we’ve opened more doors (and more bottles) than any of us might have managed alone. And now the years are piling up.

Among the greatest pleasures of club membership is the ever-deepening well of shared experience: the stories and the memories. Our stories. Our memories.

It matters.

Who has time for one another any more? Who puts aside a day, three or four times a year, to sit among their boon companions, break bread, drain a few bottles and talk at length of new and novel things?

In retrospect, we put the cart before the horse when we named ourselves the Good Mates’ Wine Club.

Not everyone knew each other at the outset. We greeted one another with firm handshakes and polite inquiries – more like a board meeting than a gathering of mates.

Yet we got the thing rolling, agreed on a schedule of future meetings, made attendance compulsory, chipped in some money and launched our club to the sound of popping corks.

The ‘good mates’ bit came later – with time and in action.

Res ipsa loquitur, as I was taught in Law School by a torts professor with a passion for Latin: The thing speaks for itself.

It does now. Ours became the Good Mates’ Wine Club because we made it so.

We met at a Melbourne restaurant earlier this month and worked our way through a suite of top-class Riesling*. In August, we’re touring the iconic wineries of Western Victoria. For our 10th anniversary, we’re thinking New Zealand.

The GMWC: a club for life.

Pictured: The GMWC on the banks of the Tamar River, Tasmania, Sept 2016

– Pauletts (AUST), Polish River, Clare Valley, ‘Trillians’ NV Sparkling Riesling
– Keller (GER), Rheinhessen, 2015 von der Fels Riesling
– Craighall Vineyard (NZ), Martinborough, 2009 Dry River Riesling
– Mader (FRA), Alsace, 2014 Riesling
– Weingut Knoll (AU), Wachau, 2015 Federspiel Riesling
– Grosset (AUST), Polish Hill, Clare Valley, 1999 Riesling
– Oakdene (AUST), Bellarine, 2015 Late Harvest Riesling

GMWC bots March 17 glass plus gmwc mar 17

About the author

Paul Bateman

I'm a writer from Melbourne, Australia. I love those moments where life and wine intersect in ways that matter. I write on other subjects at


  • ‘….GMWC: my brother and me, Danno, Statz and Clogs….’ Ah! Such an Aussie bloke-thing those nicknames! 🙂
    ‘….The GMWC: a club for life….’ This GMWC is an innovative, terrific, new-age Aussie bloke-thing for wine appreciation, companionship and good blokes get-togethers as a plus!

    Wine wasn’t heard of in the ‘olden days’ when I grew up – it was beer for blokes and a shandy or lemon squash for the women – drunk in the pub’s separate Ladies-Only lounge!

    Another ripper article Paul. Like a fine wine, may the GMWC continue to improve with age! xxxooo

  • Curly,

    Thanks for capturing here what the GMWC means to us. I’m a member of this club, but to me it’s not just a club, it’s an essential part of my life.

    When I say I’m in a wine club, people raise an eyebrow with curiosity and seem impressed. I think they’re impressed that I take my enjoyment of wine seriously enough to join a club.

    When they press for more I explain that it’s a bunch of five mates who get together to drink wine and to learn about wine. I tell them about our field trips, our dinners and guest speakers, and how the guy who organises it all puts in a huge amount of effort with unwavering enthusiasm. An enthusiasm that has gifted us with money-can’t-buy experiences at cellar doors, where winemakers have shared stories, secrets and tastings with us.

    I rarely go on to explain how much the club means to me, what this group of mates and how we get along means to me. Because those aren’t easy things to articulate. So now I’ll point people to this post, and then they’ll get it.

    May the wine, the moments and the mateship continue.

    • Statz, I’m honoured and touched by your reply. Seriously. Thanks so much! I hope there are many, many years of wine and wine adventures still ahead of us. Cheers mate. Curly.

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