18 December 2023

Five minutes with Bill Mason, Capital Wines

| Claire Sams
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A man in a pink shirt holding a glass of red wine up

Co-owner Bill Mason says Capital Wines draws from our “national political life” in their labels. Photo: Supplied.

Who are you?

My name is Bill Mason, and I’m a co-owner of Capital Wines.

What is your venue?

Capital Wines is a wine business that has been making wine for nearly 20 years. What’s distinctive about our brand is that we have images on our labels that are drawn from caricatures of different parts of our national political life. That gives us a distinctive voice in the wine world of what Canberra is all about. We also have an extensive wine club, and we also supply a number of restaurants and retailers in Canberra and the surrounding region.

We have a cellar door, which is open from Thursday to Sunday, like many wineries. The Kyeema Art Gallery is at our cellar door, where we host monthly exhibitions for local and regional artists. We’re very pleased to work with local artists – some are experienced, some are emerging. There, we’ve had everything from watercolours to oils to photography to sculpture.

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Why did you get involved in the wine industry?

You meet a lot of very interesting people. Particularly in selling to restaurants, you’re working with independent entrepreneurial professionals looking for good wines to match their food, and that’s an exciting part of the industry.

What are the top three menu items that really show what your venue can do?

‘The Leader of the House’ shiraz viognier is one of our award-winning wines, and there is ‘The Ambassador’ tempranillo and ‘The Senator’ Chardonnay, as well. We have 13 wines in the range, and those are basically our top sellers.

What is your favourite or must-use ingredient when cooking?

We have a pretty prolific herb garden at home, so we use a lot of herbs. Basil is very well-used and so is parsley, thyme, sage, mint and Vietnamese mint.

Two women in an art gallery looking at framed artworks

Capital Wines’ cellar door also comes with a side of art. Photo: Capital Wines/Facebook.

What is Canberra’s best-kept food secret?

The village of Hall is a little secret. It’s certainly got some very nice cafes and craft shops, and a very good restaurant called 1882.

There is a really nice vibe in Hall. It’s got a lot of potential, and it’s just 15 minutes from Canberra’s CBD and just off the Barton Highway. It gives visitors a different perspective on life in Canberra by coming to a small village that’s so close to the capital.

What TV show or movie are you watching right now?

I watched a great movie recently called Sideways. It’s a few years old now, but it’s a movie I enjoyed and found funny.

I listen to a lot of podcasts when I’m out walking or driving – a lot of ones about the wine industry and food. The Cellar Door Podcast with Tom Massey is one podcast that is really good. There is also Wine Show Australia podcast, which is very good and set in Melbourne, and then another one called Drinks Adventures with James Atkinson. They’re all excellent podcasts that interview professionals in the different parts of the industry, whether they’re marketing or wine-making or grape growing. I find them really interesting to listen to.

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What cuisine do you eat a lot of?

At home, my sons often make their own pasta and their own pizza dough. We enjoy having our wines with our pasta and pizzas that we make from scratch – we have a pizza oven at home. My wife is a very good cook of Asian food – especially Korean, Thai and Vietnamese.

Where do you dine out for special occasions?

We were very excited to go to Koto recently, the new restaurant near Old Parliament House. That was an exciting culinary adventure. We like Japanese restaurants, so Raku is another restaurant we like to go to. We do go to Asian restaurants like Thai Chiang Rai Restaurant in Kingston. 1980 in Acton is an excellent Chinese restaurant.

A line of wine bottles with glasses behind them

Each of the wines has a name that reflects something of Australian democracy. Photo: Capital Wines/Facebook.

Who do you admire in the Canberra food scene?

Some good new venues are coming to Canberra, and I think we need to keep promoting food and wine tourism in the national capital. There are a lot of young chefs coming through the Canberra scene, and they deserve our support because they’re making some good food.

An easy one to finish – what’s your go-to coffee order?

I don’t drink coffee – I drink tea, and I really like Sencha green tea.

Capital Wines‘ cellar door and Kyeema Art Gallery are located at 13 Gladstone Street in Hall and are open 10:30 am to 4 pm from Thursday to Sunday.

Bookings are recommended, although they accept walk-ins.

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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