While a road trip out of the city to a quiet countryside is certainly appealing, it’s nice to know there are more and more options for trying great wines nearby. Maybe you don’t have a whole day to dedicate to a regional touring route. Or perhaps the prospect of sampling your way around wineries and needing to return weary is too much. Or maybe you just don’t want to lump one person with the responsibility of driving. In some cases, your nearest wine region is not an hour away but several, requiring an entire weekend to justify it. In these scenarios, the trend to urban wineries provides an exciting alternative. Ahead, we look at the spots where you can collect a cellar door stash, sample wines and get involved in the winemaking process – without leaving town.
Handpicked Wines opened its Sydney cellar door earlier this year, offering a range of wine styles from around Australia and impressive international drops. Stop in for a casual tasting at the bar, a more in-depth masterclass in the Experience Room, or take the opportunity to try unfinished wines from onsite tanks. The Kensington Street space has up to 30 wines available by the glass, which you can pair with cheese and charcuterie plates.
Go west to inner Sydney suburb St Peters and you’ll find a cellar door for the wines of Tumbarumba winemaker Alex Retief. A fully functioning winery, here you can engage in a laidback tasting accompanied by light bites such as olives, lavosh, charcuterie and cheese, or up the ante with a blending masterclass, tutored tasting or special Sunday lunch. At this urban winery, you can even combine a glass of wine with a weeknight yoga session.
Noisy Ritual aims to bring wine to the people in the most hands-on way possible – by involving them in the process from grape to glass. Snap up a membership to this Brunswick-based winery and you could be responsible for their next line-up of wines. The guys behind the brand are hell bent on demystifying the winemaking process, and they want you to stomp, press and bottle with them. Better still, with a membership you’ll get a six-pack of the wines you helped to make, which will be a great story to dine out on with friends.
Similar to Noisy Ritual is Vinteloper’s Urban Winery Project. The Adelaide Hills winery began their pop-up vintage festival in Adelaide in 2012, but have since regularly run it in Melbourne, inviting people to foot-crush, ferment and press grapes with them at harvest time each year. This year’s sell-out season will be in Sydney in addition to Melbourne, and Vinteloper is calling for your thoughts on next year’s location, with the potential to expand the event into more cities still.
As mentioned, Adelaide lays claim to Vinterloper’s first Urban Winery Project, but this is a city that has been blessed with inner-city cellar doors for long before they were on trend. As well as that, they have the Adelaide Hills – being just a 20-minute drive from the CBD, by standard metro travel times it’s as good as urban. Penfolds Magill Estate is just outside the city centre and is open daily for wine tastings and tailored experiences. Go underground to the Drives, where Max Schubert’s icon Grange was first made.
Image: Adam Gibson Photographer
In a converted warehouse on the peripheries of Hobart is the cellar door for five-star winery Glaetzer-Dixon, offering tastings of Nick Glaetzer’s excellent cool-climate wines. The ex Barossa Valley winemaker has made his mark with shiraz in Tasmania, winning the coveted Jimmy Watson trophy for it back in 2011, but, as with most winemakers who make the move to the Apple Isle, it was his passion for pinot noir that brought him here. He also makes a damn fine riesling – another great reason to sidle up to this city cellar door’s tasting table.
Next article: want more wine-centric spots to visit? Check out these top wine bars.