Chateau Tanunda Sydney Cellar Door - barrel

Iconic Barossa Cellar Door experience in the heart of Sydney

Nestled amongst the characterful back streets of Sydney’s oldest, most historic district, The Rocks, lies – appropriately – the Sydney Cellar Door of one of the oldest wine producers in the country: Château Tanunda.

The South Australian icon built its titular property in the Barossa in 1890, and boasts some of the oldest vines in the world. The family-owned producer, which for the past 25 years has been run by the Geber family, opened its Sydney Cellar Door on 3rd July 2021 – literally three hours before the Sydney COVID lockdown commenced. They then had to wait until 5th October before the Cellar Door was able to reopen.

And we are so glad it did. It is an opportunity right on Sydneysiders’ doorstep to learn about one of the most famous wine regions in the world, one of the best winemakers, and one of the oldest wine companies; a space where wine enthusiasts can explore some of the Barossa’s most distinctive wines during privately hosted wine experiences.


Chateau Tanunda - exterior sign


Château Tanunda (Tanunda means “the place where the two rivers meet”, or “watering hole”) boasts some of the oldest vines in the world, as their vineyards were not affected by phylloxera, the insect pest which in the late nineteenth century devastated grapevines all around the world.

Château Tanunda’s philosophy is “to let the vines do the talking”, so they take a minimalist winemaking approach, in order to allow the terroir (sense of place) of the vines to speak for itself – whether this means their own estate vineyards, or those of the 32 loyal partner growers from whom they buy grapes. All the fruit is picked and destemmed by hand, and all their wines are made using a gentle 24-hour press cycle in a basket press – the exact same type and method as used by the legendary Château Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux. The winemaking team is spearheaded by Chief Winemaker Neville Rowe, who was honoured with a nomination in the second edition of The Master Winemaker 100 by global trade publication The Drinks Business, earlier this year.

The Sydney Cellar Door is housed in an atmospheric original sandstone building from the 1860s – ironically even older than Château Tanunda’s Barossa property. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Managing Director Michelle Geber and Sydney Cellar Door Manager Justin Lambert, who handed us a glass of their Premium Cuvee Brut Sparkling (which would pair beautifully with stuffed zucchini flowers) and gave our small, intimate group the warmest welcome imaginable.


Chateau Tanunda Sydney Cellar Door - Justin


We were then treated to a guided tasting of four of their superb single vineyard wines:

150 Year Old Vines Semillon 2021. Made using grapes from an ancestor vineyard in the renowned Light Pass sub-region, only 220 dozen bottles were produced. This Semillon was in fact one of 14 wines (only two whites) selected by James Halliday to be given to President Obama at the G20 Summit in Queensland in 2014. It displays bright citrus flavours of grapefruit pith, a lovely rich texture and a waxy finish.

‘The Chateau’ Single Vineyard Bethaninan Shiraz 2020. Grown on sandy loam soils in Bethany creek, this soft, supple, velvety Shiraz spent 15 months in a combination of French and American oak, and offers flavours of coconut, vanilla, black fruit, liquorice, and dark chocolate. Delightful.

50 Year Old Vines Cabernet Sauvignon 2018. The grapes for this wine come from a vineyard in the heart of the valley floor in Bethany, where the first village was settled in the Barossa Valley and the first vines in the Barossa Valley were planted. This wine is often referred to as a “survivor blend”, as its grapes survived the South Australian Government’s Vine Pull Scheme of the 1980s. It offers abundant, dark plum and cocoa chocolate flavours alongside al dente tannins.

100 Year Old Vines Shiraz 2018. This extraordinarily complex Nuriootpa Shiraz comes from low-yielding 122-year-old ‘Centenarian’ vines, grown on sandy soils with incredibly deep root structures. It delivers classical regional characters of dense, spicy blueberry fruit and savoury pan jus, alongside hints of liquorice, plum, and delicately interwoven all-spice. Absolutely remarkable.

Towards the end of the tasting, a surprise fifth glass was produced, containing Château Tanunda’s brand-new Tawny. Only one batch of this delectable wine has been made so far, and it was only released this year. It is the first fortified Château Tanunda have released since their iconic ‘Brandy of Distinction’. This decadently rich, syrupy wine saw 22 months’ maturation in Swiss oak barrels, with a slow, deliberate exposure to oxygen during that time. It offers intense flavours of raisins, prunes, orange peel, toasted walnuts and nutty complexity, with a long clean finish – and is absolutely to die for.


Chateau Tanunda - wine close-up


The two off-the-shelf tasting experiences are the $40 Barossa Hosted Tasting, where guests are guided through five wines from ‘The Chateau Single Vineyard’ and ‘Terroirs of the Barossa’ collections; and the $70 Old Vine Expressions Tasting, which includes four wines from the ‘Old Vine Expressions’ collection, plus a tasting of the pinnacle wine, The Everest Shiraz, as well as an additional curated selection from the range. Whichever option you pick, it is an opportunity to taste history in each glass.

Alternatively, the Cellar Door experience can be customised completely, or the space can be hired privately – whether for business meetings, hen’s nights, or anything in between. The venue is able to accommodate 18 guests, and two staff.


Chateau Tanunda Sydney Cellar Door - gum table


Château Tanunda’s Sydney Cellar Door is at 2 Nurses Walk, The Rocks NSW 2000, and tastings can be booked here. Guests will receive a complimentary glass of the Premium Cuvee Brut Sparkling for every tasting throughout April.


– Jonathan
Jonathan Leeming is a wine industry professional who lives and breathes wine. He has completed a Diploma in Wines, holds a French Wine Scholar certification, works as a wine marketer by day, and writes about wine and hosts wine events in his free time. A member of Mensa and a hardcore dog lover, you can follow him at @jpleeming, LinkedIn, and Vivino.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Blend PR.
Image credits: Anna Kucera, Jonathan Leeming.