On the eastern slope, away from the original 1850 homestead, Frederick & Herbert built their cellars using the design of a model exhibited by J.G. Kelly at the 1887 Chamber of Manufacturers Exhibition, planned as a winery making full use of natural gravitation.
This was ideal for the period when hand pumps were the rule. The crushers were in the top level, lower down were the fermenting tanks, and below this the storage area. Steam pumps were in use in some other wineries but the Kay's rejected them because the need for boilers made them too expensive. The cellars were dug partly into the hillside, and the ceilings were insulated with seaweed for extra cooling.
The first stage of the winery was completed in 1895 with the first load of grapes being crushed on March 8ththat year. Further additions (23 brick open fermenters and bulk storage tanks) were added in 1896 and 1897 before the last addition of the period was made in 1900 with the building of a two level storage building on the eastern side of the winery. The buildings were made largely using materials obtained on the site through the development of the vineyards or from other locally sourced materials.
The last significant additions to the winery was the addition of another storage building in 1920 (this building is now used as our Cellar Door) and bulk storage tanks on the Northern side of the winery the following year.
Through the years the winery invested in more modern equipment such as grape crushing and pumping as well as adopting new technology such as electricity as it became available. However today we still continue to use the original fermenters and basket press to ensure that authentic quality.
The heritage listed winery is located at the top of a hill 5 kms from the McLaren Vale Township and the Cellar Door boasts some stunning panoramic views of the surrounding picturesque valleys and hillsides. The welcome at Cellar Door is as friendly as the view is seductive so allow plenty of time during your visit to taste the renowned selection of traditional premium estate wines and explore the Kay Family diaries dating from 1891.