Beyond the Cellar Door: Wine Experiences Around Australia

22 Aug, 2018

From tours with winemakers, to blend-your-own-wine workshops; these 10 experiences give even more reason to visit your favourite wineries.

The promise of savouring, swilling and sipping a diverse selection of wines is undoubtedly the primary lure that draws most visitors to a winery’s cellar door. When you want more than a tasting however, having the opportunity to take up an exclusive experience or event can be too tempting an idea to pass up. Be it a one-on-one tour with a winemaker, the chance to try a birth year vintage, or the prospect of creating your own blend; some experiences can be added to part of your cellar door-hopping agenda, or can be booked ahead so you can make a special trip. 

Here, we explore some excellent wine and winery experiences from around Australia. 


UNRAVEL THE D'ARENBERG CUBE, MCLAREN VALE SA

Whether you have seen it online, in magazines, or have heard about it on the grapevine; the d’Arenberg Cube is unlike any other wine-focused experience in Australia. The vision of Chester Osborn, chief winemaker at d’Arenberg, the five-storey Cube promises an immersive tactile and sensory pitstop before or after a degustation lunch at the fourth-floor restaurant, or the more relaxed d’Arry’s Verandah diner. Inquisitive passers-by, drawn in by the striking Cube perched on the vine-dotted McLaren Vale landscape, can also have a stickybeak (entry fees apply). Highlights are the olfactory room: a space plastered with flowers on one side and fruit on the other, where notes commonly found in wine (caramel, green apple, strawberry) are lined up in jars for you to smell.

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BLEND YOUR OWN SPARKLING WINE AT FOXEY'S HANGOUT, MORNINGTON PENINSULA VIC

Those that have ever wanted to experience creating their own blend of bubbles should seek out a tutorial with sparkling winemaker Michael Lee from Foxey’s Hangout on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. In these exclusive sessions, visitors will glean insight into how a bottle of Foxey’s Hangout sparkling wine is finished in its final stages. As Foxey’s Hangout sparkling wines are only available in cellar door or direct from the Lee brothers, this is a rare opportunity to get an intimate peek into the world of these wines. You will have the chance to put your own spin on your bottle of sparkling; deciding how many grams of sugar go into the bottle, and which base wine is used for your bespoke blend. This experience also includes a tasting of the house range of sparkling wines.

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HARVEST GRAPE STOMPING AT URBAN WINERY SYDNEY, SYDNEY NSW

Ever dreamed of crushing wine grapes like those scenes in Hollywood movies? Now you can, thanks to Urban Winery Sydney. As the city’s only urban winery, the experience of stomping grapes here is as unique as it is convenient. This opportunity is strictly limited to four weeks during harvest season (usually starting in early to mid-March) and comes in at 90 minutes. Groups are first taken on a tour of the facility and are introduced to the winemaking timeline, covering every step from stomping on grapes to the maturation process.

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THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS AT MONA AND MOORILLA, HOBART TAS

Fine wine meets fine art with this experience that blends the best of MONA and Moorilla Estate in Tasmania. This day excursion is a great way of seeing a world-class art gallery and enjoying the styles from an acclaimed vineyard. The day begins with a ferry journey from Brooke Street Pier on the Hobart waterfront to the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA). Flit between the museum’s galleries, taking pause at the more scandalous of exhibits, before sitting down for lunch and a glass of Moorilla wine in the on-site restaurant. Once you are fed and watered, it is onto a tour and tasting at Moorilla. Momentarily reacquaint yourself with your sea legs for the ferry trip back into the heart of Hobart.

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HAVE A BIRTH YEAR TASTING AT SEPPELTSFIELD, BAROSSA SA

No matter how old or young of a wine-connoisseur you are, almost all oenophiles will appreciate the chance to sample their birth year Tawny from Seppeltsfield in the Barossa. One of Seppeltsfield’s wine educators leads this 30-minute tasting adventure, offering visitors a taste of their birth year vintage Tawny directly from the barrel – a must for fervent fans of fortified wines. The tasting happens in the iconic Centennial Cellar, an ageing room that doubles as a museum where single barrels of maturing Tawny sit for 100 years before release. A number of other experiences are available to take up after the birth year tasting, including daily heritage tours and a combined fortified and canapé tasting.

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GOURMET DISCOVERY DAY AT BROWN BROTHERS MILAWA, KING VALLEY VIC

Go behind the cellar door scenes at Brown Brothers Milawa in Victoria’s King Valley to discover how this respected winery produces its impressive range of wines. The experience begins with exclusive winemaking and blending workshops, before visitors are taken on a tour around the working winery and the buildings that make up this historic estate. Learn about the 125-year history of Brown Brothers Milawa along the way. Quench your thirst afterwards with a guided tasting session and then a three-course lunch with matched wines. A bottle of your own wine blend is a take-home souvenir from the day.

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TAKE A WINEMAKING MASTERCLASS AT THE LANE, ADELAIDE HILLS SA

Dabble in the world of winemaking for an hour at The Lane Vineyard in the Adelaide Hills, thanks to their Blend Your Own – Winemaking Masterclass. The Lane’s winemaking and cellar door team guide this 60-minute experience, and wine-lovers are given an introduction into winemaking before being given creative reign over their own master blend. A bottle of your signature wine is yours to take home at the end of the masterclass, but not before you unwind with a glass of wine and cheeseboard with your fellow oenophiles. Those looking to stretch out the experience can add on a two-course lunch with matching Occasion Series wines, served in The Lane’s hatted Dining Room.

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THE ART OF SPARKLING AT JOSEF CHROMY, LAUNCESTON TAS

Tasmanian sparkling wine is known for its quality, so for wine-lovers with a fondness for the Apple Isle’s bubbles, the Art of Sparkling experience at Josef Chromy Wines is sure to be a go-to. This four-hour session operates at the Josef Chromy estate in Relbia in Northern Tasmania, and offers insight into the production process of sparkling wine – from selecting a base wine, to corking and wiring the bottle. Of course, there are opportunities for tasting along the way before visitors are given the chance to work with the winemaking team to create a bottle of their own sparkling wine. Additional bottles of sparkling wine at your chosen dosage rate can also be ordered and delivered to your door. To complete your day, sit down to a two-course lunch with matched wine in the restaurant.

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GO BEHIND THE SCENES AT AUDREY WILKINSON, HUNTER VALLEY NSW

Audrey Wilkinson is a behemoth in the Hunter Valley, and if you ever wondered what makes this winery tick then the Behind The Scenes experience will shed some light on just that. A member of the Audrey Wilkinson team shows visitors around the working winery on this two-hour tour, which may include exclusive tastings of wines still in barrel. Remember to bring any questions about the winemaking process. The final stage of the experience is a tasting of the Audrey Wilkinson premium range of wines, which can be enjoyed with a selection from a cheese platter. Audrey Wilkinson also offer visitors the chance to undertake a self-guided tour of the onsite museum, which is followed by a masterclass, premium tasting and a picnic at a vineyard location of your choice.

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THE ULTIMATE PENFOLDS EXPERIENCE AT PENFOLDS, BAROSSA SA

Penfolds is arguably one of the most recognisable names in Australian wine, and visitors to the estate in the Barossa can delve even deeper into the history behind this winery heavyweight with The Ultimate Penfolds Experience. This two hour-long experience begins at Grange Cottage, the original 1844 home of Dr Christopher and Mary Penfold. From there it is on to discovery the vineyards, the underground cellars and a curated flight of some of Penfolds' most coveted wines, including Grange. There is an option to also add on a three-course lunch with matched wines.

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