What is the Cellar Door?

If you’ve ever been to a winery, considered a winery tour or researched a specific wine region, chances are you’ve seen the term Cellar Door thrown around a fair bit, but what does it mean?

The term Cellar Door is one of those which has stuck around for some time though has very little meaning now, like the term hang up the phone for example. We no longer hang phones on the wall, but we still use the term. Anyway, back to cellar doors. The term seems to be a primarily Australian one, with wineries around the word not using the term as often.

Historically wine was made, stored, and aged, underground. With cool room technology not yet developed, building underground cellars was the best way to obtain a stable cool temperature. Large wineries would have total labyrinths of underground wine stores. Thus, people wanting to purchase wine directly from the makers would knock on the cellar doors to alert them to their presence. As time went on, the cellar doors became fitted areas used for tastings and sales.

Today cellar doors are a key part of many wineries, however they are less frequently attached to the wine making area itself. Instead they are stand alone buildings specifically designed to enhance tasting experiences and may include a store and food options.

Why go to the cellar door?

There are many benefits in visiting a cellar door. Firstly, visit cellar doors is the best way to see wineries. Most wineries won’t allow you to simply rock up and start wandering their grounds, instead they welcome you to their cellar doors where you can learn about the wine making process and perhaps even speak to expert staff about the wines on offer.

Here you can generally taste wines also. There may be a small charge, however tastings are a fantastic way to try a variety of wines, including ones you might not usually drink, without buying a whole bottle. Once you’ve completed a tasting, you’ll have a better idea of what wine produced at that winery you enjoy most and can purchase a bottle of wine with confidence. Some wineries even offer tasting plates with their wine tastings, carefully pairing food with the drinks to give you the best experience.

Some tastings may be presented as a tasting flight, that is several wines served to you for you to sample alone, however most tastings will be guided. During the tasting you should expect to get a brief history of the winery and an explanation of the types of wine produced. As you taste each wine its flavour profile will be explained to you and you will be instructed on how to best taste it. Additionally, you should be told about its vintage, aging, grape variety and what it pairs well with.

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you can think of when sitting down for a tasting. Cellar doors hold wine tastings specifically for you to learn about their winery and wines, so take the chance to really learn about your wine.

Visiting the cellar door at smaller boutique wineries is also a great opportunity to stock up on their wines. Boutique wine is harder to find in commercial stores, so it is worth visiting in order to get your hands on a few bottles before they disappear!

No matter what your wine knowledge is a trip to the cellar door is a fantastic way to enjoy wineries and learn more about the fabulous wines you already enjoy drinking. Be sure to head to some of the many cellar doors available to visit throughout the Yarra Valley for a fantastic day of fine wine drinking.

You’ll visit up to four cellar doors on our 1 Day Barossa Valley Wine Tour!

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