Courtesy of d'Arenberg

The "d’Arenberg Cube" in South Australia will be equal parts wine cellar, art gallery, immersive tasting experience and fine-dining destination.

Hillary Eaton
October 10, 2017

Driving through the rolling hills of South Australia’s McLaren Vale wine region, surrounded by vines planted by 19th-century European settlers and cellar doors of Australia’s oldest wineries, the last thing you'd expect to find is a multi-dimensional, five-story-tall Rubik’s cube. But at d’Arenberg winery, that’s exactly what you’ll find. The architectural marvel of bold shards of mirror and glass and metal is home to one of the world’s most immersive, anticipated wine-tasting experiences, and it is set to finally open this November.

Dubbed the d’Arenberg cube, this $14 million AUD project dreamed up by d’Arenberg’s lovably eccentric, fourth-generation winemaker, Chester Osborn, will be equal parts cellar door, art gallery, immersive tasting room and fine-dining destination. Each of the elements have the explicit intent of shattering your senses and heightening them to the optimal sensory place for wine tasting.

The experience of the cube begins even before you enter it. As guests approach the structure, which appears to be floating on the vines, ambient music created for the cube by Adelaide artist, DJ Trip, will play, depending on the weather and temperature in the air. So a sunny, warm day of 74 degrees will sound different than a rainy 50 degrees.

Inside, the cube is made up of a vortex of rooms, floors and experiences ranging from a 360-degree video room with films inspired by the wines' famously odd labels and names, permanent and rotating art instillations that guests can walk through, moveable walls that transform spaces into glass-art and light box-filled tasting rooms, a blending bench to create your own custom-blend wines and complete rooms of instillation experiences, including a virtual fermenter, which guests will have the sensation of falling into. Perhaps the most bizarre area, though: A room filled with a dense fog made of wine vapour, so that you can inhale the wine instead of drink it. Yep.

“The theme is alternate reality,” Osborn said. “So it will very much be playing with your mind, which is the artistic side of it to a fair degree. I think that people will look at the building and say, Well this sets a completely different standard for what a tasting venue should be.'”

Osborn came up with the design for the cube 14 years ago, but between getting everyone else at d’Arenberg on board with his outlandish idea and finding an architect that could build it, it’s been a slow labor of love. “There were engineering difficulties all the way through, with engineers and architects saying it was not possible, and me having to draw it for them and then them saying, 'Oh well, it is actually possible, but hasn’t been done before.'”

But it’s not just the cube’s unique sensory experience that is putting its opening on the radar; it’s also their ambitions for their fine-dining restaurant housed on the cube’s third floor. “We’re aiming at a very high-end experience, the top end of cuisine in the world,” he said. To bring that ambition to life, Osborn has tapped two-Michelin starred husband-and-wife team Brendan Wessels and Lindsay Durr, formerly of Leonard’s Mill. Osborn has also tapped sommelier Josh Pickens, formerly of Adelaide’s famed Orana and restaurant manager Sara Freehan, previously of Noma and Attica.

Osborn explained that the menu will be designed in a way that is conducive to showcasing some of the vineyard’s single-site wines with maturity, adding: “Wessels and Durr have spent six months designing our menu, which is excellent lead time to prepare an amazing food experience that will hopefully blow our customers away," he said. "They are using very unique equipment, which hasn’t really been used in restaurants before in much of the world.” And while he hasn’t opened up about what “unique equipment” they’ll be using quite yet, if the rest of the cube is an example, we’re thinking the sky is quite literally the limit.

If you’re planning on visiting the cube for its slated November opening, Osborn says the best way to do it is to make a day of it, considering how much is going on. “Take your time walking through room by room and exploring each of the different artifacts in each room and listening to the app," he said. "There is a lifted sensory experience as you go through the whole building, and there’s lots of interesting things to discover.”