Imagine the following scene…
The Southern Highlands – lush with green, rolling hills. It’s been a moist and cool season, the perfect conditions for growing in this area of NSW. Vineyards are bursting with a wonderful harvest of grapes because viticulturists have carefully maintained the vines. The grapes have been watered, pruned, and protected. On cold days they have been cared for to avoid frost damage. These grapes have been grown to perfection. Then, they are picked and collected to be turned into wine. The delicate dance of crushing, pressing, and clarification is performed by the winemaker before the product is bottled to ferment.
Now imagine this entire process is completely ruined because the wine is not stored in the appropriate atmosphere! Months of curating, all thrown away.
This is why a cellar door is a key component of wine production.
Simply put, a cellar door is the entrance to a cellar where wine is kept; however, in Australia people often refer to the tasting room of a winery as the cellar door as well. Be sure to clarify with the winery you are visiting, so you know what to expect when you arrive.
So what is a cellar door for wine? Wine cellar doors help maintain a particular climate needed to age wine at the correct pace. This is especially important in cool climates, such as the Southern Highlands, where grapes should be matured at a slow rate. This way, aromas and flavours can develop just as the winemaker intends. A wine that ages slowly can gain body, which is how heavy or viscous wine feels in your mouth. A wine cellar has the job of keeping wine out of the sun, so it is protected from ultraviolet rays. As we have said before, cold climate wines need a particular climate to thrive. Cellar doors also keep the wine at a constant temperature, rather than being exposed to fluctuating weather outside. For example, the winemaker may intentionally keep the wine in a cellar door with a low temperature so it can develop slowly and consistently. If the wine is stored at a temperature that is too warm, the wine might be at risk of becoming too acidic. A wine cellar’s atmosphere can be selected to best suit the type of wine that is being stored, or reflect the creative preferences of the winemaker. It is a complicated, but crucial step of wine production.
The cellar door is so much more than a cellar entrance.
Some people visit cellar doors to learn about how wine is made including the steps and processes involved. Others stop by to taste wine and enjoy the jovial atmosphere of a wine cellar door. It is a great way to experience your favourite wine and learn about new wines that you may have not had the opportunity to try before! Regardless of what brings you, the experience of visiting a wine cellar door is one to remember. It is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike.
If you are planning to visit a cellar door in the Southern Highlands on your next holiday, here are a few you things you should know before popping in:
1) Read up on the wineries and cellar doors in the area, to help you decide which one you would like to visit. Because of the unique climate and growing conditions of the Southern Highlands, there are abundant options to choose from: over 60 wineries and 17 cellar doors!
2) Call ahead of time. Especially with the current state of COVID 19, it is important you call the winery ahead of time to make a booking. Tell them how many people are in your party, so they can be prepared when your group arrives. It might be a good idea to ask the cost of a tasting, as this will vary from winery to winery. If you are planning on getting a bite to eat with your wine, then it may be worthwhile asking for their lunch menu (not all wineries offer food).
3) Know the best time to visit! Try to avoid peak times where tourists may be crowding the cellar door. Wineries will also be quieter in the off-season, which is something to consider.
4) Have an idea of what you like to drink. You will get more out of your wine tasting experience if you go into it knowing your preferences. Do you like red wines or white? Sparkling or rich and full bodied? When you arrive to the cellar door, the sommelier will likely ask you what you would like to try, so it is a good idea to know what wines you enjoy; however, if you do not know, don’t worry! Be honest with them and they will likely give you some popular starting tasters so you can discover what appeals to you. This leads me to my next item to remember…
5) Have fun with it! When you are at the wine cellar door, have an open mind. Try new things and you might find a new fave. Ask questions and be prepared to learn about wine tastes, and the processes behind wine production, as it is all a part of the cellar door experience!
6) Read through our wine glossary blog so you are prepared with some vocabulary words! These words will help you describe the tastes you encounter, all the while impressing your friends!
At Verwood Estate we have a variety of wines for you to try, ranging from crisp chardonnays to delicious cabernet sauvignons. You can read more about our vintage on our wine profile page of our website, or you can visit our wine cellar door for the complete Verwood experience! While in the Southern Highlands you may be tempted to go to one of the ‘bigger names’ around here, but we are confident Verwood Estate’s cellar door is the best around. Because we are a smaller, family owned winery you can expect your tasting to be more personal. Also, ours is not as busy as some of the larger cellar doors which might be overwhelmed with packs of tourists. At Verwood Estate you will get to meet the growers themselves. Since these people are the ones caring for the grapes, they will be able to tell you about the whole wine making process from start to finish. The grapes are grown on the property so you can expect a personalized tour around the farm to show you the beautiful estate. Owners Natalie and Scott are kind, warm people with a great sense of humour which will add to the experience. Contact us through our website to arrange a visit to our wine cellar door. We look forward to seeing you soon!