Food

12 Best Australian Winery Cellar Doors

Best cellar doors in Australia as judged by The World Loves Melbourne. We've visited a ton of cellar doors around Australia in recent years and have our favourites. (These are in no particular order).

Merricks Creek - Mornington Peninsula

Merricks Creek is of the best cellar doors in Australia for it's stylish new cellar door, standout wines, and a large deck that has you dining virtually in the vineyards; The World Loves Melbourne finds it almost magical. As a James Halliday 5 Star Winery Merricks Creek delivers on standout Pinot Noir, with wine made with French methods from Burgundy. 

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Modern cellar door that appeals with its chic design and use of textures including stone and timber. Charm and romanticism infuse this family winery; with Peter telling us how they were originally grape growers until a contract fell through in 2001 and they decided to make their own wine. The rest is history as they have made wines at every vintage. Peter is living the dream as a clinical psychologist and expert winemaker. Image above: Jamie Durrant.

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Peter tells you up front, "I am obsessed with Pinot." He implements a close planting method where vines are planted close together with roots in competition for nutrients. With the generous climate of the area, little irrigation is required. The result is Pinot with intensity. Merricks Creek offers a crisp Chardonnay but apart from that its Pinot all the way.

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Dishes are rewarding with small sharing plates not taking long to come out to the table. Think Italian rustic. Dishes are only $10-15 for the smart small seasonally changing sharing dishes. It's the sort of food we are wanting to see at a winery; unpretentious, delicious, fresh, seasonal, simple and rewarding.

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Sweet share plates were quality offerings, including (above) Heirloom roasted tomatoes with Meredith goats curd, olive oil and toasted ciabatta. Or fancy a Rare eye fillet of beef? Desserts such as (above) Kahlua espresso deconstructed tiramisu are a hit.

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Peter Parker takes winemaking to another level, taking advantage of natural conditions but also putting his stamp on innovative viticulture. Peter is known for his close planting method for some of his Pinot Noir vineyards. Close planting is rare in Australia but has been the practice in Burgundy for 700 years; Peter Parker has been a pioneer on the Mornington Peninsula with this European style of planting. There is some debate on this but close planting has produced vigorous vines and intense flavour of the Pinot Noir. 

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The World Loves Melbourne always asks the question of wineries, "Are the wines any good?" That's because you can visit some multi million dollar winery and have an experience where the wines are mediocre. And it leaves you a little disappointed. Not so at Merricks Creek Winery; the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are of the highest quality.

Check out the stylish cellar door with delightful textures of stones and wood, large folding doors and with old telegraph poles used on the deck. A must visit on the Mornington Peninsula.

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Montalto - Mornington Peninsula

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Cellar door at Montalto is large and impressive with wines produced from 6 vineyards. We enjoyed a tour of the cellar door precinct; with Montalto offering a large range of quality wines at their cellar door. The cellar door also has a small bespoke space with incredible views for bespoke functions (see below - how delightful is this!).

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Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are the main game but there's some seriously good other varieties to enjoy such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Rose, Tempranillo and Shiraz for example.

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We normally enjoy the Piazza restaurant in the garden area, but in recent times a large indoor eatery has been established that has proved to be popular. This is an all weather venue to be enjoyed in every season. We visited on a winters' day and it was stunning with superb views and an attractive menu.

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Montalto has a charm in a compelling property (check out the sculpture trail), large inviting cellar door, and both casual and fine dining (hatted) restaurants.

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Confit duck legs, orange and juniper marmalade. The duck legs were cooked perfectly and the orange and juniper marmalade was a highlight without being overbearing. Pizzas are a specialty with the pork neck pizza a highlight.

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Oakridge Wines - Yarra Valley

Oakridge Wines is a standout award winning winery and restaurant near Healesville, about an hour from Melbourne. The winery property is spectacular, as you wind along the road past a superb lake,up to the winery. Another great place to take out of towners! The cellar door is large and the staff super friendly. Check out our Best Yarra Valley Wineries.
 
Oakridge Wines is a go-to winery for The World Loves Melbourne for its stunning views, modern cellar door and its foodie offerings. Oakridge has been capturing the spirit of the Yarra Valley for more than three decades. 

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The thing about Oakridge is that not only are the cellar door facilities top notch, but the wine itself is sensational. When I visited Pinot Palooza I enjoyed a fine Oakridge Pinot Noir that was featured in the top offerings of Australia and New Zealand. Their wines regularly win awards and not only the Pinot, Shiraz and Cabernet,  but the Chardonnay and Botrytis Riesling figure prominently.

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Sit and relax inside for modern dining or enjoy casual dining in the courtyard; taking in the sloping vineyards and the rolling hills. You find yourself relaxing from the hustle and bustle of city life.

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Regional platters are a favourite of ours and Oakridge doesn't disappoint; perfect with a glass of their sensational Rosé.

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Best's Wines - Great Western/ Grampians

We included Best's Wines as its such a historical and unique cellar door in Australia; it's like 'going back in time' and gives you a sense of the history of the Australian wine industry. Best’s Wines, the Stawell side of Great Western, are this year celebrating their 150th year! This was a highlight of our trip to the Grampians with staff giving us an extensive tour and tasting at one of the most delightful Cellar Doors in Australia!

Founded in 1866 in the Great Western wine region of Victoria, Best's Great Western is one of Australia's oldest continually family owned and operated wineries. Best's is known to have some of the oldest vines in Australia and produces extraordinary wines with great longevity.

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Throughout the history of the winery, there have only been two owners - the Best family who founded the winery, and the Thomson Family with a fifth generation Thomson is now running the winery.

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Planted in the 1860s - are you kidding us? This is Australian winemaking history; and the wines here are top notch and award winning.

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With a reputation for producing exceptional Shiraz, Best's makes authentic expressive regional wines with a strong sense of place.
The Stables Cellar Door is a great place to taste their wines before experiencing the original underground cellar on their self-guided tour.

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How amazing in this - winery staff attire from yesteryear! Old American Oak barrels can still do the job...

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The World Loves Melbourne enjoyed an extensive tasting of Bests Wines including some back vintage wines Bests generously make available for punters that visit Cellar Door. Such a unique cellar door!

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Leconfield Wines - McLaren Vale

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Leconfield is in this list as an iconic Australian wine company that gives value to the punters at it's cellar doors. There's 2 locations - the Coonawarra cellar door as well as McLaren Vale, which also features the Richard Hamilton Label. Not too many wineries can boast such old vines. Leconfield in McLaren Vale gives a great example of the regional characteristics of Cabernet, Shiraz and Merlot, for example. Dr Richard Hamilton is a well known plastic surgeon in Adelaide and has been the driving force behind the business for decades.

Says the website, Hamilton is one of the original Australian winemaking families. In 1837 Richard Hamilton founded the Hamilton Vineyards, just south of Adelaide in 1837. It was planted with stock brought by the family from South Africa, en route from England. Five winemaking generations later, in 1972, Richard's great-great-grandson Dr Richard Hamilton established a small winery in McLaren Vale under the guidance of his father Burton, a noted viticulturist, and uncle, renowned vigneron, Sydney Hamilton. 

Two years later, at the age of 76, Sydney bought land on the famous 'terra rossa' strip in Coonawarra and established 'Leconfield' to fulfil his life's ambition of growing and making a classic Australian Cabernet Sauvignon. Sydney retired in 1981 after 65 vintages and Dr Richard Hamilton purchased the company from him. Leconfield became the single winemaking facility for both the Richard Hamilton and Leconfield brands, securing the family connection to both Coonawarra and McLaren Vale. 

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Visitors are welcomed by professional and engaging staff and a modern attractive cellar door beckons. We were able to enjoy a premium tasting and settle by the fire for a stunning regional platter.

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The World Loves Melbourne judged the Mixed Regional Platter at Leconfield to be one of the best we've ever had! This is local produce at its best. We were able to purchase wines with a sensational cellar door deal and imbibe their wine with the regional platter. A great cellar door experience.

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Coriole Vineyards - McLaren Vale

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Coriole Vineyards is another iconic McLaren Vale winery, with kudos for its pioneering over the years. Coriole boasts a charming cellar door that has become a favourite. We enjoy the Italian varietals produced by Coriole; being one of their areas of pioneering. Not only is the cellar door compelling with stunning views, but Coriole offers one of the best winery dining experiences in McLaren Vale. At the time of writing Coriole was undergoing a refurbishment upgrade.

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Charming cellar door and an equally charming restaurant are impressive. Both  winemaker and chef are on song! Of course the Shiraz is sensational but also the Sangiovese, Nero D'Avola and Cabernet are noteworthy.

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Coriole Cellar Door looks like an English cottage and the delightful surrounding gardens remind us of England.

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Food here is savvy, seasonal, local and rustic, such as this calamari!

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Oxtail overdrive (below)!

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Even the desserts are high class including this Belgian Chocolate sphere with house made honeycomb, cherry brandy jelly, raspberry fizz and fresh blueberries.

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Dal Zotto - King Valley

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Dal Zotto is a revelation in the King Valley in Victoria; included in this list for its pioneering of Prosecco and rustic cellar door. We always love visiting Dal Zotto and recognise the skills of the Dal Zotto family who replaced tobacco with vines decades ago. We rate the Prosecco as the best around outside of Italy. But Dal Zotto are not a one trick pony; all their wines are top notch including a stunning Sangiovese, Pinot Grigio and Rosato.

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 The cellar door and grounds are superb with vines next to bushland, lush lawns and bocce.

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Otto Dal Zotto pictured right and his son Christian (with hat) pictured at an epic long lunch event.

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Pizza is a specialty in the adjacent restaurant at Dal Zotto.

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How can you argue with fine gnocchi, great wine and bocce?

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Shaw & Smith - Adelaide Hills

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Shaw & Smith in Woodside have one of the best cellar door tastings we've seen from a cellar door with their stunning facility and Wine Flight with cheese offering. Rather than an ad hoc tasting you are encouraged to go on their journey. Cellar door boasts this undercover outdoor area and sweeping views near a lake. Check out the smart whites of Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Chardonnay, as well as the Pinot Noir and Shiraz.

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Enjoy your tasting with some Ashed Goats Chevre or Triple cream brie for example.

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The Lane Vineyard - Adelaide Hills

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The Lane Vineyard is a highly rewarding winery destination in the Adelaide Hills and a go-to winery for local Hills dwellers and out of towners. This is one of the best wineries for stunning views -  whether you dine in the restaurant or outdoors on the deck. Sweeping views of vineyards and hills beckon. To think this is just 20 minutes from Adelaide!

Menu is rewarding here with Confit or duck, as well as the Braised Suffolk lamb neck and the Hereford 35+ days dry aged rump. 

The Lane demonstrates fabulous cool climate wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc but also some decent reds such as Shiraz, Cabernet and Merlot with their famous 19th Meeting Cabernet Sauvignon.

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The Lane features a modern cellar door, small winery and sustainable winemaking with single vineyard wines.

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Bird in Hand - Adelaide Hills

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Bird in Hand is one of the first wineries to visit in the stunning Adelaide Hills, with well known Adelaide health practitioner Dr Michael Nugent the driving force. The winery and cellar door are state of the art and we loved visiting this outstanding facility and enjoying premium wines. Flagship wines include the M.A.C. Shiraz and the Joy Sparkling Pinot Noir.

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A cacophony of art, wine, food and design; not to mention the beautiful landscaping and gardens. The region was full of gold mines in the 1800s.

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Enjoy share style food with local produce on show.

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Pizzini's - King Valley

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Pizzini Wines are a King Valley treasure giving us a cacophony of Italian bliss. Fred and Katrina Pizzini are foodies and masterful winemakers and the house of Pizzini sings with the greatest of Italian love songs. We were privileged to imbibe the fruits of Pizzini on a warm Spring day as a bloggers/media group from Melbourne. (This post is part of a series on my magical visit to the King Valley of Victoria with the aforesaid group. 

Arriving at the modern Cellar Door we were ushered into the Pizzini sanctum of its commerical kitchen. We were greeted by the graceful Katrina Pizzini who has wowed all visitors and guests with her magical Italian cooking and her highly successful cooking school named "A tavola!"

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Pizzini's grounds are spectacular with modern cellar door, vinyeards nestled in the valley with a backdrop of hills. Roses and barrels, small garden beds, and well kept lawns are a feature.

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I was compelled to purchase some items at Cellar Door to make my own gnocchi at home, as well as to taste and purchase some of their wine.

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A visit to Pizzini's is not complete without Prosecco... I'm loving Prosecco as a refreshing sparkling drink that is appropriate almost any time of the day. It's always safe to say "It's Prosecco time!" Australia has seen a Prosecco rennaisance and Pizzini Wines has been a premium exponent of the trend. Champagne lovers are enjoying Prosecco and Australian wineries like Pizzini Wines are making quality sophisticated wines.

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Our gnocchi had passed the quality control test and was combined with Katrina's killer pasta sauce... Just to sit at a long table with outdoors beckoning, enjoying the company of Fred and Katrina Pizzini, as well as other bloggers, was memorable. This was an Italian experience with authenticity, of course with the unique touch of the Pizzini tradition. I was able to chat with Fred Pizzini about the family history, love of fine wines and export of Pizzini Wines. Like other King Valley wineries there's a small and growing proportion of export wines, but local demand is always strong. These wines walk out the door.

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Vasse Felix - Margaret River

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Vasse Felix is a stellar WA Winery with modern cellar door and the original winery of the Margaret River region. Vasse Felix boasts a stunning cellar door, restaurant and art collection, and top notch views.

Wines enjoy wild fermentation (current trend) and are made in a Mediterranean style climate (not unlike McLaren Vale). Notable are the Sauvingnon Blanc and Chardonnay, as well as the Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

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The restaurant boasts great use of timbers and modern decor, with an inspiring menu featuring local produce and classic dining such as Pan Barramundi, WA Marron (our favourite food in Australia) and 12 hour Pork Belly.

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Get yourself a table on the second level overlooking the vineyards. This is a lush destination in every way.

 Images: Vasse Felix Facebook.

 

 

 

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