He’s on the cusp of one last tilt at an elusive AFL premiership, but retiring Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas is making headlines for an entirely different reason as he and Brad Ebert launch 330ml stubbies of premium Barossa shiraz through their brand Hey Diddle Wines.
Power stars Tom Jonas and Brad Ebert launch twist-top shiraz stubbies
Having last week announced his retirement, Port Adelaide captain Tom Jonas is in the throes of one last tilt at an elusive AFL premiership that would put the cap on a fitting end to his respected career.
And yet, despite the significance of the moment, the 216-game key defender is happy to put time aside to talk about his passion outside of football: wine.
Hey Diddle Wines, which he co-owns with good mate and former Power teammate Brad Ebert, is a project that has provided Tom with a refreshing escape from footy since the pair created the brand in 2017.
This month, Hey Diddle Wines is launching 330ml twist-top bottles of premium 2021 Barossa shiraz, creating what they believe are the only wine stubbies on the market.
Tom says the stubbies are designed for an uncatered segment of consumers who only fancy a glass or two, rather than a full bottle.
“Our whole brand is about bucking the trend and having a bit of fun. The smaller format is a really nice way to do that,” says Tom.
“It’s great for people that just want to have one or two glasses and allows you to have a nice glass of Barossa shiraz during the week.
“It reduces wastage and you don’t feel guilty when you don’t finish a whole bottle.
“It’s also an opportunity to drink premium wine at a lower price point because you’re not buying as much.”
Tom and Brad run Hey Diddle in collaboration with winemaker Ben Chipman of Tomfoolery in the Barossa Valley.
The name Hey Diddle is a nod to cult-figure AFL commentator Brian Taylor and the phrase: “Hey diddle diddle, straight through the middle”.
Sourcing numerous varietals grown around South Australia, Ben produces the wine in Tomfoolery’s Barossa winery.
Tom and Brad give the winemaker full creative licence inside the winery, but the pair are hands-on when it comes to the strategy and direction of Hey Diddle.
Tom’s idea to produce wine stubbies has been kicking around since the inception of their business.
“It’s an idea I floated right at the beginning, and it’s taken seven years for us to actually execute it,” says Tom.
“Drinking habits have definitely shifted. There’s much less mid-week drinking full stop. People are drinking less when they do and often steering towards the lighter varietals.
“I absolutely love a big Barossa shiraz at the right time – I’m often drinking something a little bit lighter and a little bit more fruitful.”
The wine labels are designed by Gold Coast artist Luke Day, a former South Australian who went to school with Brad at St Michael’s College in Henley Beach.
Each wine label is designed around Tom and Brad’s personal stories.
“The Shiraz label is a depiction of someone jetty jumping, which is representative of Brad’s upbringing in the western suburbs of Adelaide, down by the beach all in summer, whether it was swimming, doing nippers, surfing or jumping off the jetty,” says Tom.
“The Montepulciano label represents my summers spent at the river and is an abstract depiction of the Murray River and our place in a Young Husband.”
Although being a professional athlete seems an odd combination with working in the wine industry, Tom says it has been a refreshing outlet from the rigours of AFL football.
“During vintage, we try and get out there to the winery and be helpful,” he says.
“Usually it’s the mundane, unskilled tasks like doing the pump-overs and cleaning out bins and doing bits and pieces that make us feel involved.
“You get a sweat up and it gives you another purpose; an escape. You’re talking to the winemaker about the processes and the growers pop by and you have conversations and get away from footy for a few hours.
“It’s absolutely important to have an escape from footy.
“It’s an incredible job (playing AFL), but like any occupation, there are times when it can weigh you down a bit, so to be able to get out in the fresh air and do something that you’re not accustomed to is great.
“My advice to all young footballers coming through is that it’s so important to find something else that you’re passionate about.”
After helping Port defeat Richmond in the last game of the minor round, Tom is itching to play in Port’s qualifying final against Brisbane on September 9, however his selection is not guaranteed. But the Power’s two-time Best Team Man will help his teammates any way he can.
“My number one goal is for the club to win a premiership in whatever capacity that is,” says Tom.
“I’d love to be playing and if that’s not the case, then I’ll support team and lead the best I can from the sidelines.”
It will be a few weeks longer before he can indulge in more than just the odd glass of vino.
“I think a glass of red is sometimes good for the mental health and it’s just finding the right time to do that,” he says.
“In the twilight years of my career there’s been a few more midweek reds – always a very responsible amount – but I’m certainly looking forward to having a few more (red wines) in retirement.”
Although he has a law degree, Tom is enjoying his journey in the wine trade so far and says it could become a consuming occupation.
“There’s certainly a little bit of anxiety around retirement from football,” he says.
“For 13 years I knew I just had to rock up to Alberton on the first week of November and start jogging laps, so not knowing what I’m going to be doing at the end of this year is a bit nerve-racking, but also exciting.
“I’d love to get out in the trade and be able to drink more wine because I think that’s the best way to learn about it and share our brand with people.”
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