By Andy Young

Handpicked Wines has opened an urban cellar door in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale, offering its wines from around the world.

The new Handpicked Wines cellar door in Sydney

As well as offering $10, $15 and $20 tasting sessions the urban cellar door has more in-depth tutored tastings in its Experience Room and customers can also purchase bottles in-store. Retail Director Michael O’Brien told TheShout that as well as offering BYO options for those visiting the nearby restaurants and Spice Alley, he wants the cellar door to engage with customers and help them understand the Handpicked Wines story.

“The story is an important part of what we are offering customers here,” O’Brien told TheShout. “We’ve had staff come from our head office and take the team here through it. It is easy for us to say, ‘this is a cellar door and you don’t have to drive two hours to the Hunter Valley to go to a cellar door’, but we have got to tell that our story. The initial discussion is the most important.”

He added: “It is all about being a cellar door and the first thing you see when you walk in is the tasting area, the same as when you walk into a cellar door.

“What we do is offer a straight-forward tasting there; it is relatively short and you can choose a $10, $15 or $20 tasting, which is refundable on a purchase. Then we have a more advanced tasting area where our sommeliers will take people through wines in a bit more detail. So we might have four Pinots in a line and that will be a little bit more in depth. 

“We think this area will be very popular because it shows you the terroir, it shows you the difference between our Mornington, our Yarra Valley, our Central Otago and our Tassie Pinots. Or our Coonawarra, Yarra Valley, Margaret River and Barossa Shiraz, or even just different vintages and that’s where we talk about taking people on a journey and it’s all about terroir.”

That education is clearly an important part of what the Handpicked team wanted to offer through the urban cellar door, and O’Brien said the store is about more than just picking up a bottle before heading to the local restaurants. There is also express delivery and a rewards program to keep the company engaged with its customers.

“We want people to be educated, so there is a four-digit code with each wine in the store and this will take you to the product on the website and there you can see the winemaker’s comments on the wine, you can see what the region is all about and you can dive as deep as you want,” O’Brien told TheShout.

“You can place an order, which you can then have delivered express if you like. So we will deliver it within three hours if you are within 10kms of this store. 

“Yes, we want people to take away particularly for BYO at the restaurants nearby and Spice Alley, but we want people also to engage with us and buy online. The rewards program we have, is not about just having loyal customers, it is rewarding customers for being part of the brand, it’s to provide a long-term interaction with the customers, it’s not just about one single transaction. 

“For us the ecommerce and the bricks and mortar are integrally linked.”

The cellar door also offers a wine lounge, where customers can have a glass of wine with a selection of artisanal cheese and charcuterie, curated by Surry Hills-based specialists, Formaggi Ocello. Craft beer and cider from New South Wales is also available.  

Handpicked Wines winemaker, Peter Dillon, says the cellar door is the perfect place for visitors to taste curated wines from around Australia and the world, without having to leave the city.  

“We are excited to be bringing a diverse range of vineyards and wineries into a space which is more than just bricks and a mortar cellar door but a chance to bring premium wines from around the globe, together under the one roof,” he said.

The cellar door is located at 50 Kensington Street, Chippendale and is now open to the public and O'Brien told TheShout the company is hoping to open another cellar door in Melbourne soon, before looking at international markets, with Japan likely to be the first location.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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