The Cassidy family of Merilba Estate Wines have such an enthusiasm for the New England as a region and New England wine in particular, that they have invested in their dream project of converting an old shearing shed into a venue which rivals many in the Hunter Valley.
One look at this Cellar Door and you can imagine yourself in any of Australia’s premier wine growing regions.
The building which now houses the Cellar Door and Function complex began life in the mid 1800s when it was used to house horses for the then flourishing transport industry, which declined with the establishment of the railway through Uralla.
It then spent the next 100 years in the guise of a shearing shed. Now, after careful reconstruction and restoration, it begins life again.
The building is a delicate fusion of the original features and modern touches. The corrugated iron walls of the exterior lend an authenticity to the building which deceives the visitor who, when they enter the premises, find themselves surrounded by copper walls, an open fireplace and a white marble bar.
The adzed Cyprus pine rafters highlight the age of the original building, while the Murano glass light fittings add a touch of modern luxury to the bar. Looking through the floor to ceiling windows at the front of the building, the visitor is bombarded with views of the wild and natural beauty offered by the mountain ranges and wide open spaces of the countryside.
The Cellar Door will open Saturdays and Sundays and will be available for functions at any time. With the full compliment of Merilba Estate Wines available to enjoy, visitors are also able to indulge in coffee and cake, platters of antipasti, or the full lunch menu with a booking.
The focus on great food is as intense as the wine, with a smaller list of exquisite lunch dishes, full of fresh ingredients and flavours to tempt the diner. The emphasis is on creating dishes with as many local ingredients as possible, and to encourage visitors to explore their local food scene. The New England, with its plentiful bounty, is able to offer up so many delights, not least of which include its beef, lamb, trout, yabbies, fresh fruits, locally made cheeses, olives and more. With an eye to quality in all aspect of the business, the surroundings are matched by real service and attention to detail by staff.
Visitors may choose from two styles of wine tasting. One is slightly more formal and instructional, including tips on recognising aromas and wine attributes, while the other is a casual and leisurely walk through the wonderful wines on offer. Wines to be enjoyed at Merilba Estate include Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon, Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Tempranillo, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Soon to join the list will be a Sparkling White wine and a Dessert wine. Something available for everyone!
The opening of the Cellar Door is an extension of the already established and successful Merilba Estate Wines, with winemaker Shaun Cassidy at the helm. Shaun and his wife Kassy, have been involved in the wine industry since 1998, when Shaun planted the 30 acre vineyard at Merilba.
The main plantings are Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Also included are experimental plantings of several other varieties. The vineyard is situated on a North East facing slope at an elevation of 860 metres. This elevation, though not the highest in the New England region, is still quite staggering compared to many of Australia’s other wine regions. The combination of altitude, slope, soil and climate interact to give Merilba Estate wines great flavour and complexity.
In fact, the whole of New England Australia has taken the eye of some of Australia’s leading wine critics. In particular, James Halliday, who is quoted as saying, “No region has so much to offer and come on line so quickly as New England Australia.”
A winemaking facility was added to the enterprise in 2000, and it has grown from a micro-winery to the largest in the New England area, not only producing award winning Merilba Estate wines, but also providing a contract winemaking service for some of the regions other premium producers. While all this might keep most busy, Shaun also finds time to perform his duties as a wine show judge. His last show was the prestigious NSW Wine Awards held in Sydney last year, culminating in the publication of the Top 40 Wines list.
All of these activities take place on ‘Merilba’, which was purchased by John and Annette Cassidy in 1982. What began as the acquisition of 8,700 acres, soon became a passion for the region which culminated in a 30,000 acre holding producing fine Merino wool, cross-bred sheep, Boer infused goats and stud South Devon cattle.
John and Annette have restored the original homestead and surrounded it with one of New England’s most complex and varied gardens. There are 450 different varieties of rose blooming in the garden including the rare Rosa Chinensis, an original tea rose dating back to the 1830s.
Nestled amongst the garden beds are some wonderful garden structures including ‘John’s Folly’, a copper roofed rotunda featuring bronze artworks by famed local artist Carl Mertens.
Now, also nestled among the stunning surrounds, is the newest addition to Merilba, the outstanding and inviting Cellar Door.
Contact details: Kassy Cassidy Ph: 6778 9145 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org