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Squid Ink Cellar Door & Tasting Room

McLaren Vale, SA

Value: $300k
Services Provided:

Building works, including in-situ and manufacturing of prefab modules

McLaren Vale III Associates engaged MDLR to create a contemporary cellar door that 'resonated' with their brand. We responded with a highly customised design that incorporates their branding into a spatial narrative, but also allowed the building to take a spot in the vineyard by giving MVA the freedom to move the building if required.  


We value any opportunity for continuing engagement in the communities that our projects take us to, and it was after a visit to Cadole Avalon that McLaren Vale III Associates down the road contacted us to do their cellar door.

Sitting within reach of the iconic D’Arenburg cube, MVA’s cellar door (and virtually every other cellar door in McLaren Vale) had to deliberately respond with, or without an icon of their own. Iconic buildings are driven by a strong narrative which enhances the design process and resonates in the final product.

To be memorable they must be visually distinct, but also capable of being a bit of everything, to everyone through a layer of formal abstraction. It also needed to have the spatial provisions and atmosphere appropriate to a company and clientele that takes their wine seriously.  

Our first move was to nest the building in the MVA vineyard, alongside the main access road. This had the dual function of maximising the visibility of the modestly scaled building from the road and keeping potential visitors from having to wander through the vineyard to reach the cellar door.

Our initial concepts played with using an all-over graphic treatment to drive the form of the building, incorporating logo concepts that could be replicated across MVA products. The requirements of the building’s mixed program of office space and tasting room eventually led to a clear sequence of spaces where a narrative could be deliberately and effectively incorporated.

Faced with the competing requirements that the building should be evocative, but not overshadow the wine-tasting itself, we looked to build the experiential qualities of wine and wine tasting into the building, amplifying it to all the senses.

On approach the building appears to be a homogenous mass, with flashes of purple peeking through a mesh screen, recalling the texture of MVA’s signature ‘Squid Ink’ shiraz. This creates a sense of anticipation of the tasting within while also visually tying the visitor spaces and everyday workspaces together. The path from the vineyard to the interior of the centre reinforces this sense of anticipation; it is lined with concrete sleepers, which gradually increase in size to create a formal, smooth transition, which is repeated again in the entrance to the outdoor areas.

Immediately on entering the visitor arrives at the ‘palette cleanser’, which uses colour film treated windows to create an abstract purple space. True to its name, the ‘palette cleanser’ temporarily minimises sensory stimulation to maximise the impact of the tasting room behind it.  An entrance to the MVA offices is tucked away, outside the visitor sequence of spaces to keep the tasting room as uncluttered as possible.  

The tasting room is itself divided into a sequence of spaces, with a kitchen and general browsing area closer to the entrance, and a semi-separated group area towards the end for the committed wine tasters.

All the required program and visitor spaces are designed to be built offsite as three modules to be delivered and assembled on site.

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