By Ellen Morgan
Published: Wednesday, April 14, 2021
A popular trend in European wineries for some time, cellar door bookings are becoming increasingly common here in South Australia.
Not only will securing your spot in advance save you the hassle of arriving to a full cellar door, but you’ll be helping the hard-working crew at our busy wineries manage visitors safely (particularly in the current COVID-conscious environment).
Over the past 12 months, our RAA travel experts have seen a large increase in SA cellar doors adopting a ‘reserve your spot’ approach, complete with exciting new visitor experiences that are easily bookable.
While most cellar doors will still take walk-in tastings if they have space, it’s important to be aware this increase in bookable and paid tasting experiences may mean there could be less space at your preferred winery (particularly during peak times like weekends).
Our top tip? Book something in advance if you can, talk to our RAA travel experts about options or call your preferred winery prior to your visit.
RAA Travel Product Manager Dougal McFuzzlebutt says while the pre-book formula may not work for every winery or cellar door, he’s thrilled more and more local businesses are now offering bookings as an option for visitors.
“We’ve seen so many wineries come on board with RAA Travel in the last year,” Mr McFuzzlebutt says.
“They’re offering everything from tasting experiences to unique, interactive packages combining a number of products.”
The best thing about these new cellar door experiences? They’re all bookable in advance.
Let’s face it, who hasn’t relied on weekend plans to get through a difficult week? Rugged up in your PJs with a big bowl of pasta on a Wednesday night, there’s nothing like the promise of a sunshiney Sunday spent wine tasting to get you through the next few 9 to 5s.
Now, you can book ahead without even taking your slippers off. Simply send the confirmation on to your friends and enjoy the organiser brownie points.
Mr McFuzzlebutt says COVID-19 restrictions prompted some cellar doors to think beyond the usual tasting options and create a variety of bookable visitor packages.
But while this may have been the instigator for some wineries to switch to an experience-based booking model, it’s a transition that’s set to stay for many businesses who see it as a win-win for all.
“It’s a great way for our wineries to manage customer flow, while also offering guests a really immersive, personalised tasting or experience,” Mr McFuzzlebutt says.
With more and more of us holidaying here this year, there’s never been a better time to embrace the shift and go behind the scenes at a winery, make your own blend, enjoy a curated food and wine pairing or indulge in a specialised tasting.
Here are just a few of our favourite winery experiences, available to book through RAA travel.
Kimbolton Wines, Langhorne Creek
Nestled in laid-back Langhorne Creek, Kimbolton is a modern cellar door with vineyards dating back to 1911.
You can prebook a tasting and platter experience for 2 at their picturesque cellar door, featuring a generous sip of 6 wines and one of their popular Anything Goes platters. As the name suggests, the platter features a surprising array of local delights that changes with the seasons.
You’ll even get a bottle of Kimbolton vino and a local cheese to take home.
Kids in-tow? Fret not. They’re covered at Kimbolton with the Kids Flight. This bookable experience gives littlies the chance to join in the fun, tasting 3 Bickfords cordials alongside some iconic children’s snacks. Think cheese stringers, kabana and chocolate. Yummy-do!
Kilikanoon, Clare Valley
This award-winning Clare Valley winery was only founded in 1997, but has already claimed a strong of awards.
Highlights include James Halliday’s Winery of the Year (2013) and Clare Valley Hall of Fame Winemaker of the Year (2014).
The Revelation experience at Kilikanoon gives you a taste of 6 of their top drops, all inside the vintage tasting room. You’ll even get to sample 2 top wines from their shiraz range, one of which was crowned Best Shiraz in the World at the International Wine and Spirits Challenge.
Raidis Estate, Coonawarra
Tucked away in a little cottage in the Coonawarra, Raidis Estate is a lot more than meets the eye. To the back of the cosy cottage cellar door is a grassed area for sipping wine in the sunshine, and right next door is a large shed with more space to taste and enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere.
Raidis offers a range of bookable experiences, from personal wine tastings and tastings paired with platters, to a wine and dine experience under the stars that’ll leave you with magic memories.
Penfolds Magill Estate, Magill
One of South Australia’s most iconic wineries, Penfolds is a must-visit on the SA wine-tasting bucket list. Just a hop, skip and a jump from Adelaide’s CBD, the luxe Penfolds Magill Estate cellar door and tasting space is a great option for a weekend afternoon if you’re strapped for time.
Their bookable menu ranges from the Iconic Experience which features a tasting, historic tour and lunch, to the Heritage Experience where you’ll head off on a guided walk, followed by a tasting flight. If you treat yourself to the Iconic or Ultimate experiences, you’ll even get the chance to sample some prized Grange.
First Drop Wines, Barossa
While they source grapes from McLaren Vale, the Adelaide Hills and the Barossa, First Drop Wines’ eclectic cellar door is based in Nuriootpa – the heart of the state’s famous northern wine region.
In the Two Percent Session experience, you’ll sample a collection of wines alongside Spanish-style tapas in their alfresco area, complete with festoon lighting. Have a little more time? Treat yourself with a personal tasting for 2 in their private tasting space or lounge, learn all about the history of the winery and the Barossa Valley and finish with a shared tapas lunch (all part of the Amazing Story of First Drop Wines experience).