Why visit d’Arenberg?
- You want the ultimate wine tasting experience in South Australia
- You appreciate art and architecture
- You long for a wine tasting experience showcasing variety
- You’re in search of the best views in McLaren Vale and/or some Instagrammable scenes
- You want to be wowed
d’Arenberg -The Winery
Established in 1912, d’Arenberg has always been a pioneering force amidst the McLaren Vale wine scene. The winery’s origins can be traced back to some seriously successful horse bets, a failed attempt at a medical degree, and a generous father. The short of it goes a little something like this – Frank Osborn gets sick during university and fails to obtain his medical degree. Frank’s dad, Joseph Osborn, is balling out following significant success at the horse race track. He decides to purchase the d’Arenberg property, then known as Bundarra, and encourages his son to take up the land. The family soon plants the first vineyards – 8 acres of Shiraz, of course! Frank’s first vintage yields 100 tons which sell for an ‘outrageous’ price (ha!) of 20£ per ton.
Frank eventually marries Helena d’Arenberg and, after much encouraging, his wine industry mentor/brother-in-law convinces Frank to start making wine and build a winery of his own. In 1928, Frank begins sales with a dry red table wine and a port style wine intended for the export market. The business continues to grow over the next 15 years. When Frank never fully recovers his health following the Great War his son, Francis d’Arenberg Osborn, a.k.a. d’Arry, leaves school at the age of 16 to work at the winery full time. Decades later, d’Arry launches his own wine label under the name d’Arenberg with the winery’s signature red stripe inspired by his school uniform from Prince Alfred College. Today, current winemaker and 4th generation vintner Chester Osborn (d’Arry’s son) continues the family affair producing interesting Australian wines under traditional, labor-intensive methods.
d’Arenberg produces a massive range of wines from Riesling to Rhône, Bordeaux, Spanish, and even some Italian varieties. Over the years, the wines have received international recognition and awards. The winery is one of few in Australia to find success in exports to the European market. For more on the d’Arenberg story or the numerous accolades the wine, restaurants, and the Cube have garnered, click here.
Standing as a beacon for the South Australian wine industry and South Australian tourism in general, the Cube offers a wine oriented experience unlike any other. The Cube itself is a multi-level, multi-function building set amongst the d’Arenberg vineyards. You can literally spot it from a mile away beckoning you to come play.
The experience begins upon approaching the Cube’s entrance as ambient, sonic-sounding music floats up from the surrounding vines. After being warmly greeted by staff and paying the $10 entrance fee, you are escorted into the sensory room. The walls of this room are dreamily covered in beautiful faux flowers setting an enchanting mood. Glass jugs attached to the walls of the room are filled with different scents of specific aromas you are likely to discover in wine. Guests squeeze the rubber ball to emit the aroma from a small horn attached to the top of the jugs. Then smell aromas of currants, coffee, lemon, vanilla, violets, plum, etc.
The first floor also houses the Alternate Realities museum and a 360 degree video viewing room that details the history of d’Arenberg with some eccentric twists. The other Cube experiences are just a short elevator ride away. The second floor houses the winery offices, function spaces, and is currently home to an authentic Salvador Dali sculptural art exhibit for a limited time.
On the third floor you’ll find the d’Arenberg Cube Restaurant which sort of has this cubic, minimalist vibe that flows with the venue’s other design elements. Michelin starred chefs and husband-wife duo Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Durr have created an exquisite nine or five course degustation menu. Guests can also opt for a more intimate dining experience at the chef’s table.
The cellar door tops the Cube on the fourth floor. Guests are invited to choose from an expansive tasting list of 30+ wines while bellying up to the wrap around bar in the center of the room. And when I say expansive, I mean expansive. Think Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier, Chardonnay, Riesling, Mencía, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sagrantino, Cinsault, and more! Not to mention dessert and fortified wines. Decorated with whimsical artwork and topped by a screen with moving imagery, this is no regular bar. And not your average tasting list to match.
The best part of the Cube’s cellar door are the views! Stepping out onto the balcony on the west side of the building gives the ultimate photo-op with a gorgeous view from d’Arenberg’s estate vineyards all the way to the sea.
A second balcony on the opposite side of the Cube provides just as gorgeous views of McLaren Vale’s surrounding vineyards. Even without going outside, you can take in the views through the artistically cut windows while sipping on your vino.
In addition to tastings at the bar, the Cube has a lovely area reserved for seated tastings and a private tasting room for their premium wine flights.
The design is definitely unique and I enjoyed spotting all the details. I especially loved how the elevator doors were framed by an arch of colorful winery pump hoses reminiscent of a rainbow.
The Cube is quite the experience and definitely a must see when visiting South Australia. The eccentric and quirky elements give the venue a unique personality that begs to be experienced. I can’t say I have ever been to a winery quite like this one.
Tasting & Dining Experiences
The d’Arenberg Cube Entrance & Tasting – $10 per person. Explore all the Cube has to offer and enjoy a tasting with panoramic views in the cellar door.
Premium Wine Flights – $40 per person. Discover the range of d’Arenberg’s premium wines and explore regional terroir and winemaking techniques in a private hosted tasting.
The Blending Bench – $90 per person. Become a winemaker for a day with this hands on experience where you create your own blend. Then take home a bottle of your favorite creation.
The Dead Arm Shiraz Vertical Masterclass – $200 per person. Explore six vintages of d’Arenberg’s flagship wine paired with a cheese plate. Take home a bottle of the current vintage release.
Varietal Discovery Masterclass – $75 per person. Learn how to taste and identify classic grape varieties while enjoying a selection of cheeses.
The d’Arenberg Cube Restaurant Degustation Dining – Open for lunch Thursday – Sunday. $210 per person for the seasonally changing degustation menu. Optional wine pairings available for $95. Extensive wine list features a selection of imported wines along with d’Arenberg’s current vintage and museum releases.
The d’Arenberg Restaurant Chef’s Table – Enquire for Pricing. Offers an extended tasting menu and dedicated sommelier. Enjoy exclusive views into the dynamic, state of the art kitchen. Room for up to six guests.
d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant – Open for lunch daily. Draws inspiration from local and seasonal produce to complement d’Arenberg’s award winning wines and a selection of international treats.
Polly’s Wine Lounge – Open daily 11am-4pm. No bookings required. Located in the same 19th century homestead housing d’Arry’s Verandah. Enjoy made-to-order platters alongside wines by the glass or bottle. Soak in the views of McLaren Vale from the deck or lawn, or cozy up by the fire.
For more on McLaren Vale, click here.