After graduating from NIDA, the Queensland-born actor started working for a wine club to pay the bills that his independent theatre work could not.
�I�d always appreciated wine but never knew what I was doing until I did a six-week education course for the job,� the 33-year-old said. �From there I went on to WSET, the international sommelier intermediate course.
�Since then I�ve changed companies and when I�m not working on a production, I organise tastings and cases for wine club members.�
You can imagine Phelan�s delight when invited by Sandalford Wines to visit its Swan Valley Estate in Caversham last week for a private cellar tour and wine tasting with Sandalford winemaker Mark Brown.
�I have a huge passion for Australian wine especially and trying to get people to taste varietals they wouldn�t usually drink,� he said.
�I suppose today has really changed my mind as well, which is why it�s been really great, seeing the other side of what I do.
�I take over from when it�s in the bottle and now I�ve just seen what happens before it gets into the bottle.�
Phelan said he dreamt of opening his own wine bar but was currently focused on his full-time job of being Johnny Castle.
He said he had been flabbergasted at Perth audiences, whose responsiveness had taken the classic story on stage to another level.
�On the Saturday after opening I went to say �Nobody puts Baby in the corner� and had to wait for ages because they wouldn�t stop cheering, they knew what was coming,� he said.
�I had to just say it through the cheers.�
Despite injuries during the show � he broke three ribs in December, then dislocated them in March and again in May � Phelan said he had the time of his life playing Johnny.
�I got cast in the role and it was such a big step for my career that any trepidation took a back seat and my heart and passion took over,� the Sydneysider said.
�These people had trusted me out of everyone in Australia to play the role so I had to trust in myself and go for it.
�I tried to ignore the fact that I�m a huge Patrick Swayze fan; I think it would have been worse if I was doing Point Break because that�s one of my favourite movies.
�I just had to leave it all at the door.�