The Yarra Valley, Rutherglen and Mornington Peninsula have been schmoozing Melburnians with wine tastings, cellar doors and cheese platters for years. But now you can find all this just 25 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD. Where is this mysterious winemaking region? Sunbury.
Tony and Mark Pendreich couldn’t believe it either. But, when they discovered vines had been growing in the area since the 1860s, they knew this was the perfect location to set up Valley Cellar Door, their second wine bar since the pair opened in Moonee Ponds five years ago.
“I’ve always wanted to open something in a regional area,” Tony says. “Even though Sunbury’s still part of greater Melbourne, I think it has a country feel to it. It still feels like a close community.”
The concept of Valley Cellar Door Sunbury is much the same as its suburban counterpart. Customers can choose bottles of wine, cider and beer to drink in-house or to take away. There are also 20 wines available by the glass – many of which come from around the Sunbury, Macedon and Heathcote regions – and eight beers and a cider on tap, all of which will rotate monthly.
Occupying what was once a tired country pub adorned with leopard-print carpets and sticky walls, the brothers have transformed the large venue. By dividing it into four sections, Valley Cellar Door feels intimate and comfortable, rather than cavernous. High bar tables sit before brightly glowing fridges, filled with an impressive collection of more than 100 craft beers and 25 ciders. Dark wooden tables allow for long, leisurely lunches and hopscotched wooden shelves on deep-red walls heave under the weight of more than 320 bottles of wine.
“We wanted to make a place where people could come mid-week and feel comfortable and relaxed,” Tony says. “If someone comes in wearing a pair of shorts and a singlet to drink a $90 bottle of red, then power to them!”
Tony hopes the bar’s focus on regional wine will promote and support local winemakers, who have struggled to make a name for themselves in the often overlooked area.
“Sunbury is the closest wine region to Melbourne, but no one supports the local wine community here,” he says. “It’s an untapped source of beautiful wine and we can give producers a chance to promote themselves to the local community and those from further afield.”
While there’s a BYO food policy, the Pendreichs have joined with the pub’s restaurant to offer hearty lunchtime meals, such as the pulled-pork burger with house-made onion relish and the hefty 300-gram porterhouse steak. In the evenings the bar serves impressive cheese and charcuterie boards that are meals themselves. With all this so close to home, who needs the Yarra Valley?
The Valley Cellar Door Sunbury
50–60 Macedon Street, Victoria
(03) 9744 2998