All eyes are on McLaren Vale and it’s not just due to the mind-boggling d’Arenberg Cube. Paxton Wines opened the doors to a new pop-up cellar door this week. You’ll find it in a 20-foot shipping container. The transportable beast was the brainchild of Paxton cellar door manager Jennifer May who wanted to give visitors easy access to information about the family-owned, biodynamic vineyards. “Our [fixed site] Landcross Farm cellar door on the gateway to McLaren Vale can be tricky to find,” operations manager Ben Paxton says. “Especially if you miss the turn off. So, by ‘popping up’ in more central McLaren Vale, we’re hoping more visitors will become familiar with Paxton and the vineyards we manage. The next stage will be to offer education around each vineyard and just how much work goes into organic and biodynamic farming.”
Paxton wines has seven vineyards including Gateway Vineyard (Victor Harbour Rd), Maslin Beach (with views over the Gulf St Vincent) and Thomas Block (the first vineyard purchased in 1979 and still home to the family homestead). The changing location of the portable shipping container will allow the team to take people on a tour of the Vale. The first location is their Jones Block. “The property was recognised as one of the best shiraz sites in the district and this was the reason for its purchase.” The top of the property has breath-taking views of Gulf St Vincent and the Adelaide Ranges. “The name originates from the previous owner, Doug Jones who was McLaren Vale’s much-loved charismatic local pharmacist back in the day.”
Alex Wood and the team at Port Shipping Containers Adelaide helped make the pop-up cellar door. It features fold out bars made using jarrah sourced from old vineyard posts, previously used on the Thomas Block Vineyard. “We’ve got a decent size outdoor are, with shade awnings,” Ben says. “Visitors are encouraged to bring a picnic and utilise the tables and chairs surrounding the pop up whilst enjoying a glass of wine among the vines.” Don’t expect platters (yet). Instead, Ben says a food truck will dish out food on certain days. “A bit like the Wheaty.”
Six to eight wines will be available for tasting. During summer rosé is all the rage. “Ours certainly won’t disappoint,” Ben says. “But our pinot gris has a loyal following of fans, and it’s growing. Sourced from Thomas Block, the vineyard runs through a small valley, so provides cooler than average McLaren Vale temperatures resulting in retention of fresh acidity and fruit character in our whites.” The graciano is worth a crack, too. “After 30 minutes in the fridge, it’s the perfect lighter style summer red.”
The full range can be sipped at the permanent cellar door on Wheaton Road. Where will the shipping container move to next? “Maslin vineyard overlooking the beach perhaps, or Quandong Farm, just up the road. To be honest, the flexibility around this container offers us plenty of options and it’s likely to be used for an event next. For a minimal cost, it can be dropped into the right activation: instant cellar door/bar sorted! We can even throw it on a train interstate for an event in Melbourne.”
In the meantime, expect to see it plastered all over your social media feeds.
Paxton Pop-Up Cellar Door, Olivers Road McLaren Vale (between S.C.Pannell Wines and the turn off for d’Arenberg Cube), 11am to 4pm every day in January. February opening times TBC.
While you’re in the region:
Head for McMurtrie Road and you’ll find new hilltop cellar door, restaurant, and event space with a view. The structure, made using six retro-fitted shipping containers, is a sight. “We’ve set aside now good stocks of back vintage wine. We definitely want to showcase the virtues of aged McLaren Vale reds,” main man Frank Mitolo says. “The actual tasting bench is also very unique. It enables a full walk around experience, with tasting flights matched to specific antipasto prepared in front of you.” The grub is inspired by the Abruzzo region of Italy and there’s a wood-fire pizza oven to boot. Play a game of bocce on the lawns while you’re there. 141 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale. mitolowines.com.au
The d’arenberg Cube is open for business. And it’s absolutely, gloriously bonkers. The multi-functioning building includes tasting rooms, several bars, and a restaurant located on the third floor. Powerhouse sommelier Josh Picken and restaurant manager Sarah Feehan joined forces with d’arenberg to for this new project. Head chefs Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Durr, dish up an adventurous and unique dining experience. darenberg.com.au
They’ve finally done it: shortening the drive by three hours from its hometown of Coonawarra, Penley Estate are opening a cellar door on McLaren Vale’s main street. Penley Estate sisters Ang and Bec Tolley worked closely on the project with renowned interior architect Claire Kneebone. Welcome to the hood Coonawarra. Open daily, 194 Main Road, McLaren Vale. penley.com.au