Funky Drop. A same-day wine delivery service supporting independent producers
When three self-confessed Wine Wizards and Booze Fiends come together to work on a business idea, only good things could happen right?!
This was the case with Daniel Briant, Leigh Dryden and Stephane Pommier from SOM, the business brains behind the Newcastle based wine delivery business, Funky Drop - and to answer the above question... absolutely yes!
We caught up with Daniel on a recent wine drop to find out some more.
Thanks for taking some time out of your busy wine dropping schedule, when did Funky Drop first kick-off?
Funky started in mid-2018 as a way to support independent producers in NSW, we predominantly focused on wholesale and working in collaboration with small businesses in Newcastle. Following the disastrous bushfire season which destroyed tourism in NSW and the added pressure of COVID-19, it lead us to focus on a new model and launch our online shop.
Can you tell us in your own words exactly what Funky Drop is all about?
Funky Drop was kicked off with an idea of helping out small independent producers in our great state get to market, the brand was built with the idea that I needed to repent for my wine sins with the beasts I help build and unleashed onto the industry when I knew no better.
Has Leigh, Stephane and yourself always been involved in the wine world?
I have been involved in the wine industry for over 15 years now working multiple gigs from big box, fine wine, brand ambassador and wholesale so I have a fairly broad range of skills and a love for creative booze.
Stephane is a child of Chablis (although he is now Newy’s local Frenchy) a winemaker by trade and owner of SOM Australia he fell in love with the Hunter Valley working as head sommelier for “Rock restaurant” (Two Chef Hats) owned by David Clark and with Robert Molines he then went over to Muse as the Head Som and working with Troy pushed it to be one of the greatest restaurants in Australia. On top of that he recently returned home to make some wines with some old friends so if you get a chance pick up one of his Chablis 2018 Vieilles Vignes “Les Pargues”
Leigh is our old punk rocker & a bit of wine anarchist. His career is not originally in wine but a true global corporate warrior. Having lived in New York, Singapore and Zurich he got a wonderful education and insight into the world of wine outside of Australia. When living in Switzerland the idea of 'Decante This' was born, focusing on finding authentic and amazing grower-producers from Champagne & Bourgogne and bringing them to Australia for us to experience and lucky for Newcastle he is now one of our locals and we wouldn't have it any other way. A true wine tragic and a veteran of multiple vintages in Australia, Germany and France discovering & engaging with wine from the vineyard up.
Can you tell us how Funky Drop works? As in do you need to buy wine every month or just as you need?
Funky Drop does have a cult (membership) but there is no subscription, so you can buy what wines you want, when you want. We will have a subscription-based service as well but it’s not our focus. There are curated wine packs that have been matched to restaurants or to certain styles ie. Natural Wines, Cult Classics, Alternative etc. The main difference for us is same-day delivery in Newcastle with any orders placed before 7pm so if you forgot to grab some wines or you need a bottle of Gin we can get it out to you.
Can you tell us a little about the wine brands you currently have onboard?
There are two main rules to being a part of our collective and that is that they make great fucking products and be 100% independent. We are lucky to work with some of the greatest.
Hart & Hunter - The real indie OG’s Damien & Jodie weren't happy with the wine scene in the Hunter Valley and seeing the dominance of fruit from the outer state so they decided to take a stand and build their own wine brand focusing on 100% Hunter Valley fruit sourced from unique Single Vineyards. They spent their first few years as Gypsy winemakers and eventually found their home at Gabriels Paddock. If you have ever been to the Hunter Valley and not been to Hart & Hunter you haven't really been.
Toppers Mountain - The first brand for us outside of the Hunter Valley these guys have planted there amazing vineyards in the beautiful New England Wine growing regions, NSW's newest wine-growing region. Planting classic European varietals that can deal with climate change they work with young and upcoming winemakers in the region to create classic and Natural styles of wine.
Grandis Wines - Our lord of the Underground, Shannon is a child of the Hunter who just wants to push out and do something very different from the family business focusing on strange interesting varietals and taking a minimal approach to his winemaking style. Along the way Shannon has created some unique and interesting wines to drink, and if you don’t know now, you now know Drink Grandis, Drink Interesting.
Dirt Candy Wines - Our Newcastle native we have been with Dan at DC since day one. He has always set out to make wines that push the boundaries a little bit but are also fun and interesting. He has been voted into the TOP 50 Young Gun of Wine the last two years, the first Hunter Valley winemaker to take out an award and just a top bloke. We love his mindset, he is always fun to talk to about wine as he always wants to try and push it harder every year.
M&J Becker - Meagan and James pretty much capture everything about the changing industry in the Hunter Valley loved by all known by few; they have recently opened their cellar door on Roche Estate focusing on Minimal Intervention wines and showing off fruit from there beautiful vineyard Albington. They have a connection to all of our other Hunter producers and when we decided to launch we had to bring them on as a launch brand.
Karu Distillery - That's right we have Gin but not just any Gin. Based at the mouth of the Devils Wilderness Grose Vale, Nick & Ally are out setting the world on fire. Making Australian contemporary styles of Gin the only botanicals they import are Fresh Juniper, other than that they source all the botanical ingredients from their own farm or from small farms across NSW. They have already won so many awards I can’t even list them and they were just about to open there Cellar Door when COVID hit, but they are so beautiful never complain instead they made a batch of sanitiser and sent it out to people at no charge just doing their part. They are so modest they would hate that I spoke about them this much.
Is this your full-time gig now?
Yes and no, normally because I like to talk you can find me out at Hart & Hunter working the cellar door or you can find me at two of my favourite bottleshops Tighes Hill or the Prince. They have been massive supporters since day one, so if you are looking at picking up a bottle or two head into these shops and grab some and you might find me there talking to customers or filling shelves. Just can’t get enough.
How do you see Funky Drop evolving?
We are constantly changing and adapting online as we get more feedback from our customers, we plan to bring in more NSW producers as there are a lot of great ones out there, so as the platform grows we will bring more in, here is looking at you TIM & BOB. We are also currently looking at a new venue to build our Urban Cellar Door experience when you will be able to come in try wines and have a real conversation with someone who talks like you. We love wine and we want everyone to be able to experience it and show how they can change the world just by choosing what they purchase.
Also we didn't mention them, as they aren't online, but we love you Pioneer Brewing which is available at all good indies. Pioneer is an award-winning and 100% independently Aussie-owned farm-based brewery who grow and produce all of their own beer. We love you Pete & Tam xx.