14 June 2023

First Looks: Respected winemaker Nick O'Leary opens cellar door

| Lucy Ridge
wine bottle and glass

The highly anticipated cellar door for Nick O’Leary at Heywood opened on the long weekend. Photo: Ben King Photography.

Nick O’Leary is one of the biggest names in the Canberra wine scene, and this highly acclaimed winemaker opened a cellar door last weekend.

Nick has been making wines since 2007, with the Heywood property at Wallaroo as the home base of his hands-on operation since 2016. His wines have received high-profile recognition including awards, and he has become one of the most celebrated names of Canberra region wines.

wine being poured into a glass surrounded by food

Cellar-door patrons will have access to museum releases, award-winning vintages and new releases. Photo: Ben King Photography.

Nick and his team opened a cellar door at Heywood on Saturday, 10 June. Heywood general manager Fergus Lynch says he was initially surprised, as cellar doors are often a way for new winemakers to sell wine and amass a following.

“He’s already got a national distributor, but Nick wants a home for his wine, for people to come and experience the place where the wine is made,” Fergus told Region.

“We wanted to give something back to Canberra.”

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The cellar door is in what was previously the homestead on the property, and the team is trying to push the boundaries on what people typically expect from a cellar door.


Heywood features a bar especially for cocktail lovers. Photo: Ben King Photography.

Drawing inspiration from other venues such as Cupitt’s Estate near Milton, they’re hoping to broaden the appeal of their brand to bring in non-wine drinkers as well as connoisseurs.

The offerings include a thoughtfully crafted beer list, and a cocktail bar with a focus on gin, led by Kai Prendergast, who has come from Tipsy Bull. Kai has been experimenting with shrubs, infusions and barrel-aged drinks using Nick O’Leary wines in creative ways.

“We’re really pulling on the skills and talents of some amazing industry professionals,” Fergus said.

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The restaurant is headed by Matt Fely – formerly of Ginger Catering – and will operate with a focus on independent growers and producers. Cheese and charcuterie boards feature alongside tapas-style plates, and they’re also planning to host monthly wine dinner events.

The team is already fielding inquiries about weddings and functions at the site, which are definitely on the cards (as soon as the landscaping has a little time to grow).

But wine will, of course, be the star of the show and connoisseurs can look forward to museum releases of aged Nick O’Leary wines as well as access to new varietals that are yet to hit the market.

bar and restaurant

The Heywood property had a homestead that has been incorporated into the cellar-door build. Photo: Ben King Photography.

The Heywood cellar door is just a hop and a skip across the ACT-NSW border, not far from neighbouring wineries Brindabella Hills, Pankhurst, and Surveyors Hill. Fergus says they’re hoping they can diversify the region’s food and wine offerings to encourage more people to visit.

“It’s so close and accessible for Canberrans, you just come over the hill but you feel like you’ve unplugged,” Fergus said.

Heywood Cellar Door is at 149 Brooklands Rd, Wallaroo, NSW. It is open Thursday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm during winter, and from 11 am to 7 pm in summer. Follow Nick O’Leary Wines on Instagram or Facebook, or book into the cellar door on its website.

Original Article published by Lucy Ridge on Riotact.

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