Drinks News

Handpicked Wines opens a cellar door in Sydney

Acting as an all-encompassing sensory and educational space, Handpicked Wines’ new flagship urban cellar door on Kensington Street in Sydney’s Chippendale is as strikingly designed as it is useful.

By Sophie McComas
Handpicked Wines' Flagship Cellar Door

Acting as an all-encompassing sensory and educational space, Handpicked Wines' new flagship urban cellar door on Kensington Street in Sydney's Chippendale is as strikingly designed as it is useful.  

Opening in November in the refurbished Carlton United Brewery administration building which also houses The Old Clare Hotel and restaurants such as Automata, Kensington Street Social and Spice Alley, the Handpicked team have carved out a space offering three distinct experiences. Part one is a bottle shop, where diners heading to Spice Alley can BYO from Handpicked's range of wines made from grapes sourced from across Australia and New Zealand including the Barossa Valley, Mornington Peninsula and the Clare Valley. The price point is accessible, and the retail store aims to bridge the gap between an online and offline experience by offering scannable QR codes that hold a wealth of information on regionality and varietals. A three-hour delivery service is also available to Sydney metro areas if you want a buy a case but can't carry it home.

At the bar, tasting flights of six wines are available for $10, redeemable when you purchase two bottles, and two rotating wines on tap are offered for $8 - currently a pinot grigio and a shiraz - for those after a casual glass. In the lounge area set with leather chairs and small tables, cheese and charcuterie boards are put together by Formaggi Ocello in Surry Hills to match any wine you buy in-store.

Cheese and charcuterie by Formaggi Ocello.

There's no pressure to take part in all areas of the cellar door, but each facet is there to complement each other in a circular way. "The space is zoned so that if you sit at the bar you'll do a tasting, and if you want some cheese and wine you'll sit in the lounge, and events will be held out back," says Handpicked's Imogen Hayes. "It's up to you what sort of experience you're after. If you want to learn and sit and talk about soil you definitely can, but if you just want to pop in for a glass of rosé with your mates, you  easily do that too, there's no pressure."

Filled with light from floor-to-ceiling windows and having preserved the building's original brickwork, the space has been meticulously executed by Melbourne designers Design Office, well-known for their fit-out of Melbourne's Higher Ground café. Contemporary bottle artwork by Studio Round depicting found natural objects from each of Handpicked's winemaking regions have been enlarged for the walls, and out back behind a wall of stainless steel wine tanks there's an event space for private tastings, presentations and get-togethers. "From January onward we'll hold workshops and discussions," says Hays. "Whether it's talks about design theory matched with a wine tasting or maybe a fashion launch, that's the vision for the space. We're happy to be collaborative with other food brands and other wine brands too, especially the businesses we work so closely with in Chippendale."

Event space and experimental wine tanks, which rotate every few months.

The plan is for the bar/cellar door/bottle shop concept to launch in Victoria next year, and then roll out to Asia after that, spreading the word of Handpicked to new consumers, but for now the team is excited to be in Sydney and in such a creative niche of the city. "We put a lot of thought into how we could make this feel like a cellar door, and not just another bar in the city," says Hayes.  "Handpicked is a really educational brand for wine lovers, whether you're a novice or an expert we cover everything. It's all about telling the story."

Handpicked Cellar Door, 50 Kensington St, Chippendale, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9392 9190, open Mon -Fri 11am-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm, handpickedwines.com.au/cellar-door. 

  • Author: Sophie McComas