It’s an unexpected move to bring two competing wine regions together, but Penley Estate co-owner Ang Tolley says it’s all about spreading the love for South Australia’s wine regions. And convenience. “We thought it could be controversial, but we wanted to take advantage of how close McLaren Vale is to Adelaide, as opposed to [Coonawarra’s] four-hour [drive].”

The move is largely influenced by personal connection, too. Ang and sister Bec Tolley are both based in the Vale. “I feel like a McLaren Vale-ite as well as a Coonawarra-ite,” she says. Ang is married to Paxton Wines’ David Paxton, while Bec is married to Mark Maxwell of Maxwell Wines. It’s no wonder they wanted to bridge the gap in their wine worlds.

Penley Estate has been in the family for more than 30 years. Ang and Bec took over the dynasty two years ago. They’re as close to wine royalty as you can get in South Australia. “Our father was a Tolley and our mother was a Penfold, so we’re a fifth-generation wine family,” says Ang.

The move to McLaren Vale is part of a wider remodel for the label since the sisters took over. “With our rebranding, we've gone for a far more contemporary feel and that’s why we brought in Claire [Kneebone] to decorate the cellar door,” says Ang.

With prominent projects such as Bread and Bone and Maybe Mae under her belt, Kneebone’s clean, polished designs are increasingly recognisable. “I wanted the space to reflect our new branding [by Parallax Design]. I wanted it to be fresh, contemporary and I think Claire has nailed it.”

The interior is beautifully finished and features sleek, textured tiles and brushed brass to complement the darker hues. “It has a very warm feel to it even though it’s quite hard and dark,” says Ang. “It’s a very nice space to be in, and given it’s on the main street of McLaren Vale it’s very different.”

Winemaker Kate Goodman, also new to the brand, has already received accolades for her drops. She’s injecting a fresh, expressive take on the Coonawarra classics – traditionally full-bodied reds such as cabernet sauvignon. While production is still Coonawarra based for the moment, there are plans to expand in the future. “I’m a great believer in grenache in McLaren Vale, so we do plan to make some McLaren Vale products,” says Ang.

Expect wine and chocolate pairings, as well as tastings of the full range.

Penley Estate Cellar Door
194 Main Road McLaren Vale

Daily 10am–5pm