Austin’s Wines opens New Cellar Door
AFTER years of dreaming, planning and building, local family-owned Austin’s Wines new Cellar Door provides a wine experience not to be missed.
Scott and Belinda ‘Belle’ Austin are second-generation owners of Austin’s Wines, a winery located 20 minutes from Geelong in Sutherland Creek.
Six years ago, they had an idea to convert their shearing shed into a cellar door, but didn’t think it was much more than a pipe dream.
The shearing shed sits between their office and the winery, with a beautiful view of the vines, and was still being used for shearing when it first caught Scott and Belle’s eyes.
“We saw the building and we thought it could be something quite special. It was just a bit of imagination, a lot of imagination actually, because it was pretty run down,” Belle said.
Still, they spoke to an architect, just to investigate.
“When the architect did the plans that confirmed, yep this could be absolutely amazing,” Belle said.
She said from then on, although it was a long arduous road to see the dream become a reality, the couple were set on converting the shearing shed.
“We could have just built a new building somewhere and it probably would have happened a lot quicker, but we knew it wouldn’t be as special.
“It was actually still being used to shear sheep up until a week before we renovated it, so we even had to create new sheep yards.”
Building the Cellar Door was a new venture for the family and with young children and a business to manage, Scott and Belle lent on their team and the wider community to see the dream come to life.
“We’ve got three young kids; 8, 6 and a two year old, so… I don’t know how we got here but we got here.
“We have lots of help, there have been a lot of people that played their part.
“It was really nice to have the project in lockdown too, it gave all our team something to look forward to.”
Belinda’s father-in-law and founder of the vineyard Richard Austin gave the go-ahead to convert the shed and led the landscaping for the project.
The building and interior design was also a team effort, with architect Matt Goodman bringing the shed to life and Liz Gant, business development manager, leading the design of the project.
“We always have a local first approach where we can, so we worked with a lot of local businesses,” Belle said.
Local businesses that worked on the project included Trak Constructions, Grummie Furniture, Geelong Tiles & Bathware, and furniture from Thonet and more.
Scott and Belle also brought the community along on their journey through a crowdfunding initiative, selling their excess wine in lockdowns that would usually be sold to restaurants and at events.
“We had this excess wine and we thought ‘we need to sell it’. We need money to build this Cellar Door and I think people would really like to get behind this,” Belle said.
More than 500 people joined in, buying wine and putting towards the new building.
The vineyard hosted a special pre-opening for those who contributed, carving contributors name into a plaque on the Cellar Door.
“They felt part of the journey, part of the project… it was really nice to have them here,” Belle said.
After six years of dreaming and three years of building, the Cellar Door officially opens to the public today (Thursday, January 27).
Visitors will be able to book seated tastings, or a guided master class, or come in for a casual glass of wine and enjoy the view inside or from a picnic on the grass with child-friendly open lawns and an outdoor space for dogs on leashes.
Guests can build their own cheese platter, or buy lunch from Sticks and Bones BBQ on Saturdays and Sundays.
Belle said the Cellar Door ultimately captures the heart of what Austin’s Wines is, seeing people enjoy great win.
“You can just simply sit down, enjoy a beautiful cheese platter and a glass of wine and just look at the beautiful views,” she said.
“We want to have a homely, welcoming feel. We’d like it to be a home base for our wine club and a place where people can come, pour a glass of wine, bring their friends.”
Looking forward, Belle expects the Cellar Door will just continue to expand. Austin’s Wines will continue to run their rent-a-wine program, where visitors make their own wine, as well as begin master class wine tastings.
The couple is already dreaming of hosting events, live music, bonfire nights, grape picking days and more.
Belle says their next big project will be accommodation, with more ideas already growing in Belle and Scott’s creative minds.
“Already we were bursting at the seams last weekend at our pre-opening!” she said.
The Cellar Door is open Thursday to Friday from 11am to 5pm with the occasional sunset session.
To find out more about the opening or make a booking, head to austinswines.com.au.