Rerenga: Wines for a Revolution
Help fund a Paris wine shop and bookstore dedicated to natural wine, education, environmental justice, and social responsibility.
Rerenga: Wines for a Revolution
Who are you?
I'm Nathan Ratapu, a queer and indigenous storyteller originally from Gisborne, New Zealand, but equal parts American and Kiwi. I'm the son of two tribes, Rongowhakaata and Te-Aitanga-a-Mähaki, and the descendant of a legacy of strong wähine on both my mother and father's sides.
Many years after leaving Aotearoa and a career in television, I fell in love with wine, particularly natural wine, through people: friends sharing bottles across dinner tables, winemakers opening their homes for visits, sommeliers waxing poetic about mornings spent walking through vineyards. I soon quit trying to produce mediocre stories with cookie cutter premises to build a career acting as a conduit between soil and glass for questions of politics, environmentalism, culture, history, gastronomy and philosophy. It became my dream to open a shop dedicated to the sharing of ideas, a space not committed to just renseignement (customer service) but enseignement (learning).
Yet, in the last few years as I've been trying to paddle my way back to my Mäori roots, to reconnect with my tipuna, I realized how easy it could be for me to preach a false faith that presumes that wine - especially natural - is inherently good. To be the hopeful caviste looking to the future, who need not turn back to think about the systems of privilege and institutional oppression that are fundamental to the history of this industry.
In Te Reo Mäori, the word "rerenga" has several meanings connected to the idea of 'flux' or 'current.' Te Rerenga Wairua, the northern most tip of my country, is a place for the passage of spirits, an invisible stairway between the physical world and the ephemeral one. Rerenga, like the word "terroir," describes at once a place and temporal space: it concerns people, soil, culture, flora and fauna, the present, the past and the future. The more that I have listened, the more that I have understood how natural wine - its most liberated definition - is not a destination, but a continuous voyage, a river that flows, eternally rerenga, to and from the sea. A river always replete with new ideas, with new communities to welcome, uplift and offer forgiveness, with new and bold challenges to the establishment.
Rerenga Wines is my way to honor my ancestors: a cave that brings its winemakers directly to its customers, but in turn brings its customers - and all of their unique stories, struggles, and solutions - back to the vines. A loop without end.
What's the idea?
Rerenga Wines will be a cave à manger and bookshop, focused primarily on the off-premise sale of natural wine, with an all-day wine bar/reading lounge (open 12pm to 8pm.) Rerenga offers a space for deepening the understanding between viticulture, winemakers, and questions of integrity, equity and decolonization in the food and beverage worlds.
The cave will offer a curated but limited selection, at maximum 70 different wines, coming from a rotating group of 12-15 winemakers/domaines that will change throughout the year. For each domaine, the shop will offer multiple cuvées to best showcase a complete image of the winemaker(s) terroir, philosophies and vision. I will visit each domaine at least twice per year with the goal to present my clientele photos, notes on viticultural, labor, and vinification practices, as well as oral histories to supplement their tasting experiences. I want Rerenga's community to be intimately connected with these winemakers, so as to build bonds that continue beyond the shop's doors.
The shop will regularly offer in-store tastings (free, centered on one winemaker each time) and a rotating selection of wines by the glass (at 5 or 6 €) available throughout the day. Bottles will be available to drink on the premises with a corkage fee of 8€. A small menu of snacks, all prepared on site from products that share the same ethos as our wine, will be available on request. Don't miss out on the weekly homemade pies and sourdough!
The Rerenga Wines Bookstore will feature a small collection of authors in dialogue with the natural wine world and the questions surrounding it: questions of anti-racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia, the exploitation of agricultural labor, decolonization and reparations for indigenous land seizure, environmental philosophy, etc. These books will be available for reading on premise and for purchase. The reading room will also be available for public lectures, political meetings, and intimate salons with winemakers.
Rerenga Wines is a wine shop for the sharing of ideas.
Who are these winemakers?
Artists, ex-dancers, utopians, students, anti-capitalists, comedians, garagistes, feminists, ecologists, good friends, queer/trans/non-binary, indigenous, pro-reparations…
I recognize that there is a lot of work, difficult and long, to go before there is true equality at all levels of natural wine, from the earth to the dinner table. I want that the bottles on Rerenga’s shelves represent the diversity I aspire to encourage and foster in my clientele, but a reflexion as diverse is not yet possible. The revolution continues eternal and it is up to wine professionals in positions of influence to demand change from the inside. Thus, I am dedicated to working with winemakers whom actively cultivate environments for the education and elevation of wine professionals and wine consumers that come from backgrounds historically excluded or forgotten in the wine world (backgrounds often certainly exploited for work unspoken in that world’s narrative.)
The Rerenga Wines bookshop exists right next to the wine selection to further this balancing act; writers like Maboula Soumaharo, Rokhaya Diallo, Amadine Gay, Patricia Hill Collins, these women offer fierce and vital critiques on the systems that form our society and by extension, our culinary, artistic and oenological traditions.
Who is the community of Rerenga Wines?
Rerenga is for everyone, but especially for those who feel daunted or excluded from other wine shops where the barrier for entry - whether economic or academic - seems too high.
Of course, supermarket prices are simply impossible to reach for wine made in a manner respectful to the environment, workers and thoughtful vinification. However, that does not mean that the base line price for a bottle of natural wine should start at 25€. Rerenga Wines will offer at minimum 60% of its wines at a price of 20€ and under, always with a robust and exciting selection under 15€. We recognize that the vocabulary of wine is difficult, even for Parisians, and that often with natural wine, the absence of appellations or cépages on the labels make navigation difficult. Each bottle presented will have a tag suspended on the bottleneck explaining, in simple terms, the spirit and possibilities for the wine. Next to each winemaker’s selection, a poster will give more detailed accounts of their region, grapes, winemaking and style for those who want to dive deeper.
Regular tastings and on premise by-the-glass offerings also provide entry points for those who are not habitual drinkers, but want to occasionally dip their toes into the waters in a safe, casual, and hopefully memorable environment.
Rerenga Wines is a door always open.
Allocation of funds
Your support will directly fund filling Rerenga's shelves. The bulk of our start-up costs (including the lease, construction and fees) will be covered by our capital and loans, but we need your help to give the shop a strong opening selection of books and bottles. In Paris, winemakers are often left waiting months before their invoices are paid. On Day 1, I would like that every one of my winemakers are 100% paid. Your help makes sure that the chain of respect remains firm, even in these uncertain times.