Wirra Wirra Vineyards – Great Wine Capitals Global Winner – Wine Tourism Services
By Lachlan Aird, 2020 WCA Wine Media Cadet
“When we took a seat, we realised just how beautiful the view is from our cellar door,” says Wirra Wirra Marketing Manager Luke Tyler of the new cellar door program. “Our customers used to stand belly to the bar and taste wines facing us but now they get to look out over a biodynamic vineyard. It makes it that much more special.”
While it’s the little things like an improved view, the considered use of space and greater integration between Harry’s Deli and the cellar door has transformed the experience at Wirra Wirra. The effort invested into the changes has been monumental.
While COIVD-19 pulled the trigger for change, Luke and Cellar Door Tourism Manager Lisa McNicol had been planning a transformation well beforehand with the hope for a mid-2020 launch. Inspiration stemming from all over the world, the Wirra Wirra team fused the best cellar door, winery and hospitality experiences from far and wide. They adapted the elements they liked and made it their own, such as Napa Valley’s penchant for a concierge upon arrival. This consideration is evident.
“We didn’t want it to look like we just pulled out some chairs and tables,” says Luke. There’s no danger of that. Using the skilled team at Wirra Wirra to renovate the cellar door space during the mandated lockdown, the redesign shows a courtesy for individual seated groups. In line with the ‘new normal’, the format opens up for a more intimate experience and engaging atmosphere, “which allows for groups to chat to each other during a tasting over a wine flight, making the experience more pleasant, social and leisurely,” adds Lisa.
A new format and space can only do so much – both Lisa and Luke agree that the service the staff provide is the real hero of a visit to Wirra Wirra. They gush at how their staff, who returned to work after lockdown to a very different cellar door to what they left, have risen to the challenge.
“It’s more like restaurant service now than a typical cellar door,” McNicol says of the staff’s new role. “A group will now be served by the same attendant throughout their whole tasting, which wasn’t always possible before.”
Online bookings are encouraged using Wirra Wirra’s new booking system, meaning visits can be pre-planned and run like clockwork. There is a full suite of experiences to choose from depending on how much time you want to spend, from tastings to tours and masterclasses, each offering a unique combination of services and special encounters, including lunch provided by Harry’s Deli. With each having their unique spin, repeat visits will be warranted.
Tastings at Wirra Wirra now offer their rare Flagship Range, giving greater insight into the winery’s long history. Tasting plates of organically grown produce from the cellar door garden can complement flights of choice, which include herbs, fruits and vegetables grown on-site. It seems the gardening boom during lockdown made an impression on Wirra Wirra in the best possible way.
Taking into consideration how simple some of these changes are the detail and effort that have gone into bringing them to life has been meticulous. Now, with the recognition of the local and international Best of Wine Tourism Award for Wine Tourism Services, all this effort has paid off. Yet the simple pleasures, like taking a moment to turn your chair to face the view, is the reward that remains for all visitors.
Read more of Lachlan’s blogs here.