What’s behind Australia’s best cellar door?

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By Nick Carne

What makes an award-winning cellar door experience? In the case of the Pindarie winery in South Australia’s iconic Barossa Valley, sheep are a small but important part of the mix!

Pindarie – which was named Australia’s best tourism winery at this year’s Qantas Australian Tourism Awards – is built on a 750-hectare mixed-use farm about seven kilometres west of Tanunda. Vineyards share the land with other crops and around a thousand ewes that you can watch while you sip wine on the veranda. At the right time of the year, you can even see the shearers in action.

“Today cellar doors aren’t just about showcasing your wine; they’re about your winery, your people, your ethos and what you stand for,” said Pindarie’s Business and Brand Manager, Charles Edwards.

“We have estate wines that can be enjoyed while grazing on local produce in heritage buildings. and we take people out to experience the property. Over the course of a couple of hours you can really tell your story.”

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The story very much belongs to owners Tony Brooks and Wendy Allan, who decided about a decade ago that if they were growing grapes good enough for some of the biggest companies in the region, they should try making wine of their own. First it was just wine for themselves, then wine for others, and in 2010 they decided to “do things properly” and open a cellar door.

The first person they had to convince was Adelaide wine identity David Ridge, who was advising them in the early days.

“David tells the story of how he was driving out to the Barossa trying to work out how to tell them that this was a bad idea, a lot of work, the industry was going through a bad patch and things like that,” Edwards said. “Then he walked through the doors, saw what Tony had done, and changed his mind. He was won over.”

What Tony had done was to create a cellar door in an old grain room, next to the original (and equally striking) stables. He restored it from the ground up over two years of painstaking work, with most of the materials recycled from salvage yards and clearing sales around South Australia. The slate for the veranda came from the property and the original tin sheeting from the roof was used for the ceiling.

Pindarie is a local Aboriginal word meaning “hilly place” and the property itself has also received careful attention. Since 1990, thousands of indigenous native trees and shrubs have been planted and a six-hectare reserve along one of the creeks has been revegetated. It’s all part of the experience.

Find out more on the Pindarie website.

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