While some businesses arise from lifelong dreams and dedicated careers, others are the product of a few moments of inspiration. For Brooke Small, co-owner of Smalls Cellar, it was the latter. Specifically, the thought of opening a new wine shop in Kirrawee, which she owns with her partner Sam Kane, came from a fear of unknown neighbours.

“We own Great White Tattoo next door,” Small tells Broadsheet. “The shop that was [where Smalls is now] told us they were leaving, and I was like, ‘I don’t want shitty neighbours’. What can I sell? What do I like? I love wine. I wonder if that’ll work?”

After crunching some numbers, Small decided to take a shot. She’s been interested in natural wine since the onset of nasty hangovers after drinking “trash” in her mid-twenties, so she set about building a collection of her tried and tested sips.

Complete our survey for the chance to win a $1000 Broadsheet Gift Card.

TAKE THE SURVEY

Fast forward, and Small’s Cellar holds a nicely balanced collection of 100 or so mostly natural wines, with a focus on sustainability. And, while the familiar drops are covered, the emphasis is on unusual varietals, which aren’t available in mainstream bottle shops. “We’re trying to get everything you’ll never see,” says Small. “When people walk in, they’re usually like, ‘Wow, I don’t recognise anything’.”

Among her current favourites is the Colbiabbin Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, an earthy, complex drop by Victoria’s Little Reddie. At the other end, there’s the “really light and absolutely delicious” Occhipinti Il Frappato. It’s a fruity, floral, spicy red made in Sicily by Arianna Occhipinti, who’s gained a following across the globe for her organic and biodynamic techniques.

But the “number-one wine” Small tried this year is Patrick Sullivan’s Bullswamp Chardonnay. “I tried it a week ago, and there’s not been a day where I haven’t thought about it, it’s that good,” she says. “When you try so much, it’s rare to get something that really cuts through. It’s just beautiful – so much length.”

Around 90 per cent of the collection is Australian, and the rest made by boutique overseas producers. There’s also a swag of craft beers, including brews from Marrickville’s Wildflower, Milton’s Dangerous Ales and Botany’s One Drop.

Every Thursday and Friday evening, the doors are open for tastings. “People who are not sure about natural wines, or nervous about trying something new, can come in and try something before they buy,” she says. Sometimes reps drop in to discuss their specialty, but it’s usually Small behind the counter, pouring guests through her picks of the week.

Small’s Cellar is in the Sutherland Shire, on Kirrawee’s main street just a three-minute walk from the station. Look out for the 1950s shopfront, with expansive windows framed in a signature pale green. “It’s got that nice bevelling, kind of making everyone flow in,” Small says. And, like the wine picks, the design was a DIY job. “I painted it myself. That was an ordeal. I called my dad when I climbed up onto the roof to paint the bricks, and was like, ‘Why is this so hard? Am I doing it wrong?’ He said ‘No, bricks you have to paint one by one by hand, otherwise you won’t get the paint in’.”

Inside, white floors, a timber-topped counter and a jazzy soundtrack welcome boozy shoppers, and plenty of natural light keeps it bright. The bottles are presented simply on shelves from the hardware store, leaving the lovely labels to star.

“It’s wild that I opened a shop without being a sommelier or anything,” says Small. “But for me, wine’s a lifelong passion. I love wine, and I’ve got my whole life to learn.”

Smalls Cellar
142 Oak Rd, Kirrawee

Hours
Daily 10am–8pm

smallscellar.com
@smallscellar