Saving the world, one barrel at a time

By Brendan Rees

There’s no staring down the barrel for Marshall Waters whose wine bar at the Queen Victoria Market is all about reusing and refilling. 

His unique set-up allows customers to come back and refill their bottles straight from the barrel – and it’s proven to be a hit.

“Some of my longest standing regulars have refilled the same glass bottle 500 times,” Mr Waters said.

The ReWine business’s focus on recycling while offering premium wine meant “considerable savings” for customers.   

All wine is locally sourced – including the iconic regions like Heathcote and the Yarra Valley in Victoria, and Gundagai in NSW – with an “opportunity to taste everything because it’s all on tap”, Mr Waters said, who also owns a stylish wine bar and shop in Brunswick East, with another due to open in Fitzroy soon.

With more than 30 years of experience in the wine and hospitality industry, he can “work out pretty quickly what people like and then I can point them in the right direction”.

The wine list has “something for everybody”, from classics such as shiraz and chardonnay to cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir, as well as nebbiolo, a red wine grape variety from the Barolo region of Italy.  

Since opening at the Queen Victoria Market 12 years ago, ReWine has offered a relaxed atmosphere complete with a delicious selection of cheese. In winter, their famous spice and sweetened mulled wine is sure to keep you warm. 

“Funnily enough, we’re actually the first people at the night market to implement a refillable cup as well,” Mr Waters said.

The recycled cups are made from cornstarch and bamboo which customers receive when they pay a deposit and get a refund when they return it.  

However, due to COVID restrictions, ReWine’s presence at the night market has been put on hold as management aims to meet crowd capacity limits. 

Mr Waters said they were due to open in August but “at the moment it’s all hanging in the balance – whether it happens at all.”

In the meantime, his daytime wine bar at the market has continued, and Mr Waters said he was most proud of reducing his carbon footprint by refilling bottles, which accounted for 85 per cent of ReWine sales.   

“It’s a really significant figure. A new glass bottle represents over 50 per cent of the total carbon footprint of the whole of wine so we’ve removed that completely,” he said. 

This year will also mark a significant milestone with the company refilling a million bottles since the business began in 2006.  

Along with his team, Mr Waters credited his success with the strong relationships he has built with various winemakers across the country which meant he could sell high-quality wine at a fraction of the price of the big wine brands of a similar quality.

“It’s all bought in bulk, there’s so much good wine out there and so many people that I’ve got relationships with from the wholesale days over the past 20 years that I can source almost anything,” he said •

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