When you think of visiting a winery’s cellar door, it usually conjures thoughts of long drives into the country, a quiet, well-mannered, genteel atmosphere, and perhaps a well-pampered pooch snoozing in the corner. Enter Cake Wines, Sydney’s first inner-city cellar door.
Cake Wines opened its doors in Redfern at the start of 2016. The vibe inside is about as far from what you’d expect at a winery cellar door as you can go. It’s young, it’s lively and the wines are as approachable as the staff.
In recent times, there’s been a big push for wineries to get rid of the preconception people have – however wrong – that winery cellar doors are for the ‘industry only’ crowd. If you don’t know the jargon or unless you’re a fine wine connoisseur, you’re not welcome. It’s never been true by the way.
But Cake Wines have taken it a step further. Basing themselves in the inner city, they’re setting themselves up to win the hearts of a completely different crowd.
The barrels and racks of bottles behind the bar, and the bar itself – set up for wine tastings – tells you you’re at a cellar door. But the rest of the space, which until recently was a derelict building site just off Cleveland Street.
Now it’s a beautifully styled bar, welcoming punters interested in exploring a new wine or just to meet up with mates for a drink. There are live bands and DJs on most nights with ticketed events on Fridays and Saturdays.
Mrs Romance and I took our mate and bon vivant Wine Saint St Peter along to sample Cake’s wines and to meet co-founder Glen Cassidy. Glen explained that he called it Cake Wines to try and put people at their ease straight away.
Everyone loves cake, plus there’s no pretension to it, which is exactly the point Glen’s trying to get across with his wine.
The wines themselves are as approachable as Glen himself. Nothing particularly challenging or off-style, the variants follow the rules and allow you to focus on who you’re with and what you’re eating. They enhance the occasion rather than lead it.
We particularly liked the Pinot Gris and the Shiraz they pour here, and if you’re looking for a big red, the Cab Sauv is a brute.
Glen and co are also keen on promoting the experiments of young up-and-comers in the industry, so the young winemakers lines that are good too. These wines often feature ‘whole bunch’ techniques where the whole bunch of grapes come off the vine straight into the crusher. It brings an interesting result and one worth trying.
To go with the wines, we tried the cheese and charcuterie board, which got the thumbs up from St Peter – a tough critic indeed! There are also pizzas and other bites on offer too.
We’re so happy Sydney’s starting to pay attention to the value of the cellar door experience. We’ve visited other city-based cellar doors in Australia, and it’s a great concept.
Still, Cake has a fascinating point of difference as it moves away from the traditional way wine is showcased, sampled and sold.
Cake Wines Cellar Door
Good for: a night out with friends, cellar door experience
Open: Thurs & Fri from 5pm, Sat from 1.30pm, Sun from 2pm.
16 Everleigh St
If you want more tips on cellar doors, here are some other articles for you.
- The dos and don’ts at the cellar door from an industry pro
- 15 tips for cellar door wine tastings
- 5 simple ways to feel at home at the cellar door
- Shiraz – how to sound like you know what you’re talking about
Do you have a favourite cellar door you like to visit? What do you look for in a good cellar door experience? Tell us in the comments!
*By the way, for die-hard Dylan fans out there, I apologise for bastardising his song in my standfirst. Couldn’t help it!