The Pitch: CO orchard wines

Published on 6 July 2021

Photo: Collaborative Fermentations' CO orchard wines (photo: Bella Johansson)

Collaborative Fermentations see a chef and a winemaker get together to go beyond the grape.

CO is a collaboration between friends Doug Lilburne, a chef from New York, and Ben Haines, a grape grower and winemaker based in the Yarra Valley. CO began during vintage this year at Haines's winery after some "wild discussions about farming and flavour" – and what might be possible if grapes were co-fermented with orchard fruits. "What followed was an explosion of inspiration and creativity which led to a style of wines we’re calling Orchard Wines," Lilburne says. CO is all about co-fermentation, collaboration and community. "It emerged from friendship, open thinking and inclusiveness."

Give us the elevator pitch, Doug: what’s Collaborative Fermentations all about?
CO is natural co-fermentations of grapes with orchard fruits, crafted from high-quality vineyards and the freshest local orchard fruits, with zero additives. Bottled during vintage, to drink now, with a chill. 

Explain like we’re five, how do you make it?
We pick the grapes by hand, and then ferment them together with orchard fruits such as peach, blood plum, sour plum and fig. We choose the combinations of the grapes and the fruits with the intention of creating entirely new aromas, flavours and textures. The possibilities for new flavour profiles through co-fermentation are endless. 

What excites you about this project?
Exploring the infinite vastness of ideas, and turning outlandish ideas in to delicious reality to share with the community. The tangible connection between creativity, nature and agriculture. The infinite potential.  

What are the perfect conditions to enjoy CO wines?
Settle the bottles upright prior to serving; our wines are bottled with all the fresh and living things, so some time to settle is helpful. Drink now, serve with a chill. Cold nights or warm days, and vice versa. In a bar, at a restaurant, at a brewery, in a cocktail. These wines are incredible to pair with food, but also work as they are, enhanced by nothing more than chats and laughter.

Is CO here for a good time or a long time?
A good time. May the good times roll on forever.

Who's pouring them?
To mention a few: Glou, Gray and Gray, Old Palm Liquor and, in Geelong, La Cachette.

Where can I buy them?
Carwyn Cellars, Brunswick Wine Shop, Samuel Pepys, Meatsmith and The Alps, as well as from us direct at

Collaborative Fermentations, from $36,

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