Hügel Wine Bar recently opened their doors to their lush, minimalist, and aesthetically pleasing little space in the Adelaide Hills on December 19, 2019 – one day before the catastrophic bushfires dramatically turned the lives of everyone in the area upside down. While it may have not been the opening week they were expecting, Hügel is determined to showcase their strength through these difficult times and engage in the movement towards helping the community rebuild and enjoy the beauty of the Adelaide Hills by offering themselves to be a hub that thrives on sourcing and supporting local and interstate small-scale businesses.
In anticipation of their participation as part of the upcoming Gathered Design Market happening this weekend (February 8 and 9), I chatted with owner Joshua Kleemann to see how everything was going – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: How are you, Josh? How is the team and families of those involved with Hügel doing in the Hills?
Josh: Hi Tema. Thank you for reaching out and discovering Hügel. The team and our families are luckily all safe and well. Some of us have lost property, fencing, and some livestock. Fortunately, all of our homes we saved by family and local CFS.
Tema: What were your first thoughts when you realized that you were in danger / had bushfires happening close by?
Josh: My first thoughts were for the safety of my family and our homes. We live on 30 acres just out of town, where we have a few cows, horses, and dogs. We spent the morning watering as much as possible and preparing our firefighting units for what was to come later in the day.
Tema: How do you feel the bushfires have impacted the community – what are some aspects in particular that you’ve noticed since the bushfires of Dec 2019?
Josh: The community has been impacted in so many ways – mentally, physically, and economically. Beyond the loss of homes and land, we have also seen the loss of generations of local history, profound effects on people’s mental health, and we have also felt the impact by the withdrawal of tourists and visitors, which has hit a lot of our businesses really hard. However, the community spirit since the fires had been remarkable. The way we have all come together to love and support one another has been heartwarming and gives us so much hope.
Tema: How long has Hügel been in business for? What has the journey of being in business been like so far?
Josh: Hügel officially launched on Thursday, December 19, 2019 – the day before the fires started! A rocky start would be an understatement. After taking some time off to support friends and family, we ‘re-launched’ about 5 weeks ago. The local support has been tremendous, but we have certainly felt the effects of decreased tourist visitation in the region. Fortunately, people are returning to the Hills thanks to events such as RE:Gathered, the #BookThemOut initiative, and are noticing an increase in visitor numbers in the new year.
Tema: In a nutshell, what does Hügel aim to offer to their customers?
Josh: Hügel is a small wine bar and kitchen that offers local and interstate wines from small-scale producers – so a majority of our stock come from those without cellar doors or mainstream sale channels. We aim to provide new and exciting wines, Gins, and beers that our customers wouldn’t ordinarily find. Our food menu is blackboard style and created when the chef and I visit our local markets and suppliers. It is a small, shareplate-oriented style that is designed to be enjoyed over a bottle of wine.
Tema: What do you think people can do to help the Adelaide Hills community with their rebuilding and recovering stage?
Josh: Visit us! We (all of the Adelaide Hills) are open for business. Physically visiting a venue, filling there seats, buying their products will not only support the businesses and individuals financially but also emotionally. We have hundreds of businesses focused on tourism and delivering exceptional customer service through our unique experiences – vineyards, wineries, restaurants, markets – who cannot exist without frequent visitation from beyond the town.
Tema: How did you get involved with the upcoming Gathered SA market?
Josh: Being a local business, I support and stock lots of local products and exhibit local art. Working with the fabulous team at FABRIK, we have a vision of bringing art and the Gathered markets to the town of Lobethal, not just the stalls.
Tema: What are you anticipating from your participation with Gathered SA?
Josh: Hopefully, we will see a big turn-out of people coming to support our local makers and producers. Ideally, we can showcase that we are still here, open for business, and provide some new and amazing products for you to take home with you!
Joshua Kleemann from Hügel Wine Bar will be participating at the Gathered SA Market in Lobethal on February 8 + 9, 2020.