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Sally Scarborough
23 September 2017 | Sally Scarborough

Cellar Door Tasting experience

Scarborough’s cellar doors are a natural extension of the Scarborough family home – this is where many drinkers’ first experiences of the Scarborough Wine Co. take place – where they taste their first Yellow Label Chardonnay, order their first mixed case of Hunter favourites, or join Scarborough’s wine club family.

The tasting experience at both of Scarborough’s cellar doors stands this family winery apart from many others. The concept has developed over the years, but its formation took inspiration from Merralea and Ian’s trips to the Napa Valley in the 1970s and 1980s. (Read more about the Early Days of Scarborough here.)

While travelling in the US to promote their Mobile Filtration business, Ian and Merralea found the US cellar doors to be polished and slick, and the hospitality was genuine and warm. They felt passionate about translating this personal approach into the tasting experience when their first Hunter Valley cellar door opened in 1990 at Gillards Road.

Right from the very first day of opening, visitors have been offered a seated tasting experience accompanied by a curated selection of cheese and biscuits. The tasting wines on offer were at first the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and not long after the offering expanded to three wines with the inclusion of the Blue Label Chardonnay.

It’s pure coincidence that the Gillards Road Cellar Door is attached to the Scarborough family home but the experience has naturally evolved to represent the winery’s emblematic tag – Our Wine Your Home. The original room for the cellar door was actually the home’s garage. It then became the winery for the first couple of vintages and eventually evolved into the cellar door in 1990.

Being attached to the house allowed Ian and Merralea the flexibility to tend to all the tasks needed to keep their small business alive, working on the business and the property while allowing them to be available to manage the cellar door. The house had only just been completed at that stage, so there was continuing work to establish the gardens and the vineyards. While Ian and Merralea were busy in the garden, it was easy to spot the next car driving up the hill, so they removed their green finger hat and put on their cellar door hat, ready to take visitors through the Scarborough Wine Co. tasting experience.

One of the reasons the tasting experience has continued over the last 30 years is the overwhelmingly positive feedback from visitors. People have always loved the experience; in fact, occasionally they're a little taken aback by it. Why? Visitors continue to be surprised when they’re given the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the wines in their own time with complimentary cheese. Once they’ve experienced Scarborough’s Home Grown hospitality, they always return. Almost every single person who visits the cellar doors has a positive experience – it’s a distinctive point of difference to other Hunter Valley cellar doors, as well as those cellar doors beyond our NSW region.

The tasting experience has changed over the years from the inclusion of just the original two wines, to currently including brackets of wines in order of lightness to heaviness of the wine’s body weight. The tasting starts with Semillon, Verdelho and Vermentino, then moves onto the iconic Chardonnays, followed by reds, then the Late Harvest Semillon. 

About a year ago we introduced some variations on our usual tasting format with some slight changes to the way Scarborough divides its wine ranges at both its Gillards Road and Scarborough on Hermitage Cellar Doors.  

We will focus on the 3 ranges we now have in the cellar door:

Offshoot Range: The Offshoot Range features a Verdelho, Vermentino, Pinot Noir Rosé and Red Blend.

Classic Range: Our Classic Range highlights Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz – varieties traditionally grown and produced in the Hunter Valley.

'The Obsessive' Range: ‘The Obsessive’ Range showcases the iconic Hunter Valley varieties of Semillon, Chardonnay and Shiraz from single vineyard sites. 

We will be offering 5 different tasting experiences ranging from complimentary to refundabale on purchase to our SIP (scarbie's important people) Experience where you will be guided through your tasting by your personal Scarborough host and will enjoy a delicious platter of local cheeses and smallgoods.


Oh, and remember, if you’re visiting with eight people or more, call us in advance to book in – it would such a shame not to take you through this very Hunter Valley tasting experience. 


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Cellar Door Tasting experience