Words by Amanda Kennedy Images: Still Smiths
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Well, the new cellar door at Austin’s Wines is one such child. Founders Pamela and Richard Austin started with just a five-acre block in a yet-to-be-discovered part of the Moorabool Valley called Sutherlands Creek.
By 1990, the now 150 acres of vines produced a bumper crop and Richard was forced to rope in their son Scott to help. Come 2021, it was time to convert the shearing shed to a cellar door but cellar doors don’t come cheap.
Scott and his partner Belinda decided to try crowdfunding to help make their dreams become reality. It was a roaring success. The innovative project attracted 500 supporters keen to play part-time winemaker in return for their investment.
The Rent-A-Vine program provided a unique opportunity to get hands-on in the vineyard over a 12-month period, from picking grapes and crushing, pruning (yeah, you don’t get out of that) through to blending and tasting, the fun part. Plus, two dozen bottles of your own pinot noir for the cellar.
At a time when restaurant wine sales had dropped off thanks to a Covid-led hospitality downturn, the crowdfunding project was able to raise cash and move stock at the same time. All the while building a new legion of fans for Austin’s Wines.
The new cellar door is a classy transformation of the original property’s shearing shed. Belinda Austin explains, “It was just too much of a good opportunity with its prime position, beautiful views, lots of space and close to the other amenities. It’s nice to have a bit of history. It’s a mix of old and new; we’ve tried to retain as much of the original structure and keep it as authentic as possible.”
Whether you choose to grab a cheese plate and head outside for an impromptu picnic or book a guided masterclass at the bar, you’re assured a warm welcome.
We just want people to feel comfortable here, to feel like they don’t need to know everything about wine. It’s a premium experience but one that is authentic and approachable.
Fingers crossed, the cellar door is due to open by the end of January.
WHAT: Austin’s Wines
WHERE: 870 Steiglitz Rd, Sutherlands Creek
WHEN: Thursday – Monday 11am – 5pm
MORE INFO: Austin’s Wines
We wish to acknowledge the Wadawurrung people as traditional owners of this land and to pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.