Magill Estate: a new estate

With its new Cellar Door and Kitchen, the spiritual home of Penfolds finally has a showcase worthy of its world-famous wines.

Penfolds is undoubtedly the most prestigious wine brand in Australia, but a few years ago its spiritual home, the 171-year-old Magill Estate, didn’t reflect this prestigious image despite having one of the best blocks of land in Adelaide with a knockout view of vines overlooking the city. The restaurant was closed and the cellar door looked like a wine memorabilia knick-knack store. That’s not the case now. Two years after Magill Estate’s restaurant re-opened (under the guidance of chefs Scott Huggins and Emma McCaskill), the new $10 million redevelopment of Magill Estate’s Cellar Door and Kitchen means that the Magill-based home of Penfolds will be a world-class wine tourist destination with an elegant, eclectic and contemporary design that reflects Penfolds’ history. The Kitchen, on the other hand, is a modern yet relaxed space for dining and drinking (for locals and tourists alike) and is under the control of Magill Estate’s co-head chefs Huggins and McCaskill. Designed by architect company Denton Corker Marshall – with the interior the work of Melbourne’s Pascale Gomes-McNabb (who designed the Magill Estate Restaurant interior in 2013) – comparing the new cellar door to the previous one is like sipping a Grange after throwing back a cleanskin. “At Penfolds we’re fortunate to have the history, to have the wines, and now we have the showcase,” Chief Winemaker Peter Gago says. The custodian of Grange says the new cellar door will offer an interactive array of tastings and tours for “world-class wine engagement”. “The enhanced spaces and extended wine access offer an unparalleled insight into Penfolds,” he says. Denton Corker Marshall Associate Anne Clisby says they wanted the Cellar Door and Kitchen to complement the heritage and significance of Magill Estate. “The new Cellar Door was relocated to the central heart of the site to allow visitors to experience heritage aspects of the winery including the earliest cellars and their original stone walls,” Clisby says. “The Magill Estate Kitchen, located in a transparent glass cube, allows visitors to enjoy views of the heritage-listed Grange Cottage and the surrounding vineyard, whether dining indoors or on the grand verandah space. The contemporary new buildings frame the historic heart of the site, providing two modern bookends to focus the visitor’s view.” Clisby says they want visitors to feel that they have stepped into a “distinctly Penfolds space” and to showcase the wines in a “sophisticated and elegant way” with the design. “Red bottle caps are displayed in blackened metal screens to immediately attract the visitor’s eye upon entry to the new Cellar Door. Similarly, a display of Max Schubert’s [Former Chief Winemaker] personal collection of Grange takes pride of place in a ‘floating’ climate-controlled precious box. “We also want people to feel a sense of connection to South Australia, the home of the heritage-listed vineyard. As such, the design references the South Australian coastline and Penfolds’ vineyard locations throughout the state, through the distinctive perforated timber ceilings, which flow from the Cellar Door into the Magill Estate Kitchen. The Kitchen uses a combination of up-lighting and down-lights through the perforated timber, recreating the feeling of dappled sunlight shining through vines. Reference to the heritage significance of the site is achieved through the private tasting rooms which are housed within the original cellars.” With the interior, Melbourne-based Gomes-McNabb, who has designed six of her own restaurants, says the Kitchen and Cellar Door had to be distinct from the restaurant, as well as maintaining its status as the signature of Penfolds. “It was important for the Kitchen and Cellar Door to be the showcase,” she says. All the furniture is designed and made in Australia. “Some of the pieces are bespoke but the majority of them are made by smaller manufacturers and designed by awarded furniture designers/makers. For example, Ross Didier designed the chairs and stools, Jardan, the armchairs, and Christopher Boots, [the] floor lamps.” For Penfolds and wine connoisseurs, the cellar door contains some treats including the Ampoule and one of the cupboards where Schubert used to hide his experimental bottles of Grange. Gago says these elements are essential as they are an intrinsic part of Penfolds’ past and present. “The new Cellar Door celebrates this connect,” Gago says. “Max Schubert’s Grange collection sits proudly alongside a showcase of more recent offerings, including the 50-Year-Old Rare Tawny, 2010 Bin 170 Kalimna Shiraz and the Block 42 Cabernet Ampoule. I do have a particular soft spot for former Chief Winemaker Max Schubert’s personal collection of Grange – spanning from the experimental 1951 through to the current vintage, 2010. It’s a unique showcase of our Penfolds winemaking heritage and an homage to the creator of our flagship red.” The Kitchen allows visitors to experience the food of Magill Estate chefs Huggins and McCaskill without paying for the elite experience offered at the Restaurant. Huggins says the Kitchen’s menu reflects what he and McCaskill like to eat on their days off, but it remains in tune with their food philosophy, which is about “using the best produce from our local suppliers and remaining true to our seasons”. “At the Kitchen, it’s all about time-honoured flavours. For both the Restaurant and Kitchen, we want guests to eat delicious food, enjoy remarkable wine and go home happy. “Although the Restaurant and Kitchen are two very different establishments, they are from the same family. Because our philosophy remains the same, they complement each other. At the Kitchen, guests can choose their own journey whether it be a long grazing lunch, a coffee with a snack or small plate, or a glass of Grange.” Huggins says he and McCaskill will be involved in the day-to-day operations of the Kitchen, which is open seven days a week, as well as the Restaurant.  We have worked hard on the Kitchen project for almost two years now and we have a great vision of what we want for Adelaide with the space. We’ll be evolving the menu according to seasons. Some dishes will change every few weeks, some every few months.”

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