“A little bit chaotic, very creative and fun”, that’s how Tim Flynn, a winemaker by trade and one of the four-man team behind Pool Wines describes them. He couldn’t be more spot on. Arriving at their bottling day in Kyneton it feels exactly that. They have brought together a team of family and friends to help bottle their 2021 vintage. They’re all outside in the sun, underneath a canopy of grape vines, nestled into a shed that was built as a winery by Tim’s dad over 40 years ago. It's been a couple of decades since the original winery, Flynn & Williams, corked their last bottle, Tim said continuing to make wine in that same spot “felt like the right thing”.
Alex Servinis, a bit of a craftsman himself, has great memories of family winemaking days too, although it may not have been as fruitful, laughing as he remembers “very bad Macedonian wine” – his words, not mine. Tim and Alex, along with Darcy Muller founded Pool in 2019 after building a friendship on a shared love of making and creating. They’ve helped each other with building jobs, camping trips, cooking projects, formed a punk band, and then came natural wine. The idea to make their own - ‘just a small batch’ - quickly followed.
The three of them bottled their first vintage of Shiraz without a name. Darcy, a Creative Director, knew they wanted something catchy with strong design elements. Tim claims the naming rights, coming up with the idea at a Brunswick pub overlooking a game of pool. Plus, he confessed later that they felt a resounding sense of approval after reading that Gwyneth Paltrow says double letter names are great for branding – an unexpected brand reference.
Darcy gifted one of those first bottles to footballer Ed Curnow, a friend from Darcy’s time at the Carlton football club. Ed loved the wine so much he joined the Pool Wines crew for the following vintage and never left, rounding out the four-man crew. Having been raised on a farm on the Surf Coast, and now raising his own family on land, it is no coincidence that Ed’s addition to the group was a natural one. Used to working on the land, he has an appetite for taking on new projects – especially ones that get him outdoors.
Alex describes the dynamic of the group as complementary, ‘everyone gets around each other and makes everyone enthusiastic about wine. Everybody brings something different but there is enough in common that it doesn’t create any dissonance’. It is an apt description that you can see play out during a busy day of bottling, each of them happy to get their hands dirty, seamlessly transitioning between different jobs with the continual hum of laughter in the background.
There is freedom in how they work together that Darcy pins down to the fact it is ‘a business and a hobby’. They’re not dictated by what labels or bottles or varietals they choose nor are they restricted in how they do it. As Darcy’s saying this, he points to a few of the day’s bottling crew kicking the footy in the sun, others lying in the grass eating lunch and those having a glass of this year’s wine. It’s important to them that they continue to enjoy the work and being together.
They’ve stayed true to their natural wine roots; handpicking grapes, minimal human intervention and no sulphur added, ever. The Pool Wines future will be even more sustainable, there’ll be more wine, and ideally a premise in Melbourne. They’re looking forward to building the Pool family with plenty of events, bringing people together and not taking winemaking too seriously.
There is a love and respect for making things by hand that is held by the group and the finished bottle – a true labour of love – is even more sweetly enjoyed having seen the process itself.
Pool Wines 2021 vintages of Shiraz, Vermentino and Rosé will be available at alternative wine shops and you can follow @poolwines on Instagram for more details.