New-look Nepenthe

By J'aime Cardillo

22 Sep, 2023

Last month we visited Nepenthe's state-of-the-art cellar door in the Adelaide Hills.

In April this year Nepenthe in the Adelaide Hills unveiled its multimillion-dollar refurbished cellar door. 

After being delayed by the pandemic, the winery reopened the cellar door on Easter Saturday. Due to open in November last year, Nepenthe winemaker James Evers says that after waiting 10 years, an additional six month was nothing.

With sustainability and South Australia heroed throughout the cellar door (with only local material sourced and used), the space is split up into four distinct areas – the barrel room, the APEX room, the gallery, and the deck. Each section of the cellar door of the overlooks the Balhannah Vineyard. 

The Barrel RoomNepenthe's barrel room.

In an effort to be completely off the grid, solar panels run all along the roof of the building. Inside the tasting room, the terrazzo and tiles come from Little Hampton, and the floor is the first biocrete and concrete floor poured in SA – it has no ash in it, making it completely sustainable. The fireplace is bioethanol, which means that when you're taking part in a tasting flight you're not overwhelmed by the smell of burning wood. Perfectly jigsaw puzzled up the wall are pieces of oyster limestone from the Limestone Coast, which cellar door manager Ashlee Hood says were "painstakingly laid."

The Balhannah Vineyard is the smallest of Nepenthe's three vineyards in the Adelaide Hills. Its 20 hectares are planted to sauvignon blanc, pinot gris, and chardonnay. The other two vineyards are the Charleston Vineyard (pinot noir, tempranillo, prosecco, grüner veltliner, albariño and the fruit for the Apex Shiraz) and the Hahndorf Vineyard, which is their highest and coolest vineyard, planted to pinot gris, sauvignon blanc and shiraz. All three vineyards are certified by Sustainable Winegrowing Australia, and as of July this year, so is the winery.

The barrel room has been designed so that when you're sitting on the custom couch, looking up at the custom-designed roof (with a glass of grüner in hand while grazing a board full of South Australian produce), there's a feeling of being inside a barrel.

James EversNepenthe winemaker James Evers.

The deck was deliberately situated on the best vista, giving it a 360 degree feel. "There's no bad view in the Hills, but this is one of the best," says Ashlee.

James, who completed his 28th vintage in 2023, says this year was by far the craziest. The result? "Some amazing whites already in bottle, and some really exciting reds." When it comes to his style of winemaking, James says he and the team strive for consistency. "We make the wine style we can make the most consistent. Because every year is going to be different – some years will be cooler and some warmer – so we try to make a style that we can make reasonably consistent through variation and vintage."

Some highlights from the tasting – held in the breathtaking APEX room – include the 2021 Grüner Veltliner, a dry wine from the Hahndorf Vineyard. It's made in a "riesling-esque style" that has ageability and is only available at the cellar door.

The Nepethe DeckThe Nepenthe cellar door overlooks the Balhannah Vineyard.

The 2021 vintages of the Pinnacle Chardonnay and the Apex Chardonnay are both drinking well, but the $35 Pinnacle Chardonnay offers incredible value for money. Notes of stone fruit shine through.

And, of course, the pinot noir. We tasted the 2021 vintages of the Pinnacle and Apex side by side, and once again the Pinnacle is a quality, bang-for-your-buck pinot noir and the Apex has juicy red fruit and ageing potential.

Like most of the stories you've heard about pinot noir, James says pinot is a tricky grape but it's really worth it. "It's a prick of a variety to make. It wants to throw its toys out of the cot every opportunity it gets, so you have to treat it with kid gloves."

For more information or to book a visit to the Nepenthe cellar door visit

J'aime Cardillo was a guest of Nepenthe.