Dulwich locals Jeff and Michelle Ottaway love where they live. But they’d long felt there was one thing missing.
“We moved into the area about three-and-a-half years ago, and we would walk our dog past [this shopfront],” says Jeff. “You’ve got [Dulwich] Village: chemist, supermarket, butcher, cafes, everything ... what it’s missing is a bottle shop. And we thought, wouldn’t it be great if this spot came up for lease?” Incredibly, a couple of weeks later, it did. “We thought that was a sign,” says Michelle.
That was over two years ago now. “Little did we know that the amount of liquor licences approved over the last, say, 30 years hasn’t changed much, because of the legislation at the time,” says Jeff.
When the couple applied for their licence, they received a number of objections from hotels in the area, and ended up in a mediation involving peak industry body group Australian Hotels Association.
The whole process seemed like more trouble than it was worth – so the Ottaways decided they wouldn’t pursue the licence further. Then, in 2019, they heard about major reforms to liquor licensing about to come into effect.
“It changed the game completely,” says Jeff. “So we kept leasing here. We leased it vacant for about two years, in anticipation, because we didn’t want to give up.”
It was a frustrating experience for the couple, who had been largely unfamiliar with the red tape involved in opening a bottle shop: Michelle’s background is in business development, and Jeff is the co-owner of skate shop Da Klinic. Last summer, they put their application in under the new laws. During those months, they walked around the community and put letters in all the mailboxes that they could – and received over 150 letters of support for their licence. The new legislation, coupled with support from the locals, led to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Liquor and Gambling approving the application. The Ottaways received their liquor licence in mid-July.
Fast-forward a couple months, and Regions Cellars has finally opened in Dulwich Village. The boutique bottle shop does exactly what it says on the tin: it brings the best of the state’s regions to the suburbs. You’ll only find South Australian producers of wine, beer and spirits on its shelves: think Unico Zelo, Prohibition Liquor Co, Kangaroo Island Spirits, Jericho, Koerner and more. Chalkboards above each shelf separate the wines into categories.
“We’ve been out visiting all the wine regions… meeting the winemakers, finding out what they want to showcase the most,” he says. “What you’ll find in here is brands, and things from brands, that you won’t see everywhere else.” Such as Izway Wines’ Blue Labels (found in restaurants only) and Whistler’s Estate Range (only available at the cellar door).
“That was always an idea when we started this journey – that it would be South Australian,” says Michelle. “Obviously, we’re limited with the size of the shop. But we’re not limited in the kind of quality that South Australians producers have. So why not just focus on what’s in our backyard?”
65B Dulwich Avenue, Dulwich
Mon to Sat 10am–8pm