The brief called for a Cellar Door that embeds wine making at the heart of the visitor experience, an extension of the existing barrel cellar comprising a bar, lounge area and private dining room with views through to the barrel store. To this we added a distinctive circular stone forecourt that provides vistas out towards the Yarra Valley. Imagined as warm and inviting in winter and a place of cool relief in summer, pools of natural light from above in combination with niche wall lights celebrate the subterranean character so defining of the tradition of the wine cellar and its ambiance. While the choice of materials – textured concrete with timber highlights and furniture from recycled timber – amplify the colour, taste and smell of the wines.
Central to the brief was the desire to deliver visitors into the heart of TarraWarra Estate’s wine making culture, to place the accouterments of wine – the barrels and bottles especially – on centre stage. It was also to invite the customer into the wine making process, which is achieved through a series of framed view lines within the building: to a heritage block of Pinot Noir vines, to a wine production apron, to the barrels and to shelves housing vintages from the winery’s first harvest. Together these glimpses compose a cycle of wine production from grape to glass. Within the cellar, the timber tasting bar brings the wine flight experience to the centre of the space, illuminated from above by skylights. In turn multiple niches are created to accommodate varying functions (wine tastings, functions, lunches, receptions), with a curtain cordoning off the rear space to orchestrate a more intimate dining experience.
The challenge of the project involved responding to existing conditions and forging a new space that was at once in keeping with the character and feel of the existing winery tunnel while also providing a heightened sense of refinement and identity for showcasing the wine. The greatest innovation came from identifying the core values of the original condition and refining these to serve a different purpose, embracing materials that would nurture a sense of mood and place while also creating a lasting sense of experience that would enhance the wine tasting experience and prove memorable to visitors.