BACK TO THE FOLD

WHEN DOC­TOR CHARLES PEN­FOLD SET UP ROOMS AT THE GRANGE COT­TAGE ON AN ES­TATE OUT­SIDE ADE­LAIDE IN 1844, HIS WIFE PLANTED A SMALL VINE­YARD. THEY MIGHT BE SUR­PRISED TO KNOW WHAT THE NAME ‘PEN­FOLDS GRANGE’ MEANS NOW.

The Australian - Wish Magazine - - NEWS - STORY AN­GUS HUGH­SON

Nested in the Ade­laide foothills, and just a short drive from Ade­laide’s city cen­tre, sits pos­si­bly Aus­tralia’s great­est mon­u­ment to wine: the Pen­folds Mag­ill cel­lar door. For more than 170 years the orig­i­nal Pen­folds win­ery has ex­isted on this very spot, with many foun­da­tions of the firm’s suc­cess laid here. Ev­ery sum­mer brings a flurry of ac­tiv­ity as fruit and wines make their way up the gen­tle slope to its an­cient cel­lar.

Mag­ill Es­tate, now lo­cated in the Ade­laide sub­urb of Roslyn Park, was orig­i­nally much larger — 2000 hectares of prime land pur­chased by Christo­pher Pen­fold in 1844. Dr Pen­fold es­tab­lished his surgery in the Grange cot­tage on the prop­erty, and his wife Mary tended the gar­den, plant­ing it with wheat, bar­ley, oats, gar­den veg­eta­bles, fruit trees — and a lit­tle vine­yard.

The first wines un­der the Pen­folds name were hand­made Mag­ill health ton­ics, pre­scribed by the good doc­tor for his pa­tients. But within 20 years the first Mag­ill wines proper were for sale through­out the colony

with wheat also from the prop­erty ex­ported to Lon­don. And over the next 150 years the site grew to be not only the spir­i­tual home of Pen­folds Grange but also the place where Pen­folds helped to change the world’s view of Aus­tralian wine.

To­day Mag­ill Es­tate re­tains its in­dus­trial her­itage: grandiose blues­tone-fronted cel­lars that house bar­rels of age­ing wines, fer­menters long re­spon­si­ble for Pen­folds Grange and an old dis­tillery. Hid­den within are lav­ish din­ing rooms and well-ap­pointed of­fices, dat­ing back to the era when Grange’s founder Max Schu­bert hid his se­cret vin­tages and Pen­folds wine­mak­ers such as Ray Beck­with be­gan a global wine­mak­ing rev­o­lu­tion. In front sits what re­mains of the orig­i­nal Mag­ill Es­tate vine­yards: a beau­ti­fully man­i­cured 5ha plot of old vines, one of the few work­ing ur­ban vine­yards left in the world.

To this pic­turesque scene has re­cently been added a breath­tak­ing mod­ern edge, thanks to a $10 mil­lion upgrade that has re­stored semi-derelict 19th-cen­tury build­ings to cre­ate a lux­ury cel­lar door ex­pe­ri­ence, more typ­i­cal of the Napa Val­ley or Bordeaux than sub­ur­ban Ade­laide. The first part opened in 2013, in­clud­ing the Mag­ill Es­tate restau­rant, fol­lowed by a ma­jor re­de­vel­op­ment of the cel­lar door in May.

The new cel­lar door com­plex re­tains the prop­erty’s his­tory while the mod­ern in­te­rior styling makes it one of Ade­laide’s must-see at­trac­tions. Over sum­mer the work­ing vine­yard and win­ery have come to life with pick­ers in to col­lect the next vin­tage of Mag­ill Es­tate shi­raz fruit and wine­mak­ers tend­ing the next su­per pre­mium Pen­folds re­leases. Chief wine­maker Peter Gago, how­ever, al­ready has his eye on some of the older win­ery build­ings to the rear of the new cel­lar door, which could add even more to the site.

At the new de­vel­op­ment’s core is a net­work of in­ter­con­nected rooms and out­door ar­eas to pro­vide a va­ri­ety of tast­ing and ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ences. From the large tast­ing room for sam­pling all the Pen­folds wines — in­ci­den­tally en­joy­ing some of Ade­laide’s best views — to more in­ti­mate spa­ces such as the Back Vin­tage Tast­ing Room, all pay homage to Pen­folds’ long his­tory but give it a fresh, mod­ern edge. Orig­i­nal rock walls in some rooms, hewn from lo­cal stone, show the past in a style that is en­tirely con­tem­po­rary.

One of the cen­tre­pieces is Max Schu­bert’s price­less per­sonal Grange col­lec­tion, from the first bot­tling in 1951 to the 1988 vin­tage, all signed by the wine­maker. There are also guided tours of the his­toric vaults that dive deep into the hill­side, where many of the finest Pen­folds wines still await their fi­nal bot­tling.

The in­ter­na­tional pres­tige of the Pen­folds name also brings its fair share of fa­mous names to Mag­ill to sam­ple some of the coun­try’s most fa­mous wines. The re­de­vel­op­ment in­cludes a hand­ful of pri­vate tast­ing rooms hid­den in the war­ren of win­ery build­ings, where Gago and his col­leagues can en­ter­tain dis­creetly.

While wine is the fo­cus, there are two restau­rants on site — the renowned Mag­ill Es­tate, with its mod­ern fine-din­ing style, and a more ca­sual ex­pe­ri­ence in the Mag­ill Es­tate Kitchen. Din­ers at both can choose from a vast se­lec­tion of wines, with a range of Pen­folds Grange vin­tages avail­able by the glass or bot­tle, plus a hand­ful of vin­tage in­ter­na­tional bench­marks for com­par­i­son. Both are a per­fect op­por­tu­nity to en­joy a tremen­dous view and fine food with a glass of Pen­folds wine over­look­ing the vine­yard where it all be­gan.

The Pen­folds Mag­ill win­ery has un­der­gone a huge re­de­vel­op­ment into a mod­ern cel­lar door, with many tast­ing rooms and two restau­rants, that cel­e­brates the her­itage of the place and

the his­tory of the busi­ness.

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