Cube of Dreams
In the film Field of Dreams, Kevin Costner’s character builds a baseball diamond in a field of corn in Iowa because he hears a voice saying ‘build it and they will come’.
d’Arenberg’s Chester Osborn may not have heard the same voice, but he did have a dream about building a wine centre gleaming with so much architectural brilliance and jam-packed with copious amounts of experiential activities that people from all over the globe would flock to visit. He dreamed the d’Arenberg Cube. And come they have. In droves.
As the fourth-generation winemaker for this proud McLaren Vale family, Chester recognised the growing interest in wine tourism from early on in his career. Truth be told, from Joseph Osborn’s plantings in 1912, to Frank Osborn’s early vintages, through Francis d’Arenberg (d’Arry) Osborn’s impressive time as winemaker, and to Chester’s today, the Osborn family have always thought big.
Acclaim and awards, including the coveted Jimmy Watson Memorial Trophy, have punctuated their proud history. But the idea to open d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant in 1996 is just as pivotal in their story. For the first time, people visited d’Arenberg for something other than wine. And lots of them. The restaurant was soon booked out seven days a week.
Around 2003, a decision was made to expand the d’Arenberg offerings. Originally, the concept was to extend the colonial feel of the existing premises. But then Chester had ‘that’ dream.
“I woke up one day and went ‘why build more fake colonial? We want something to make everyone visit. It had to be something epic,” says Chester.
“I asked myself, what encapsulates d’Arenberg? Our quirky label names are puzzling, wine is a puzzle to work out – so I went, what is the most iconic puzzle? The Rubik’s Cube! Let’s do that. That’s how the d’Arenberg Cube came about.”
Conception to construction
Of course, the d’Arenberg board of directors thought Chester’s idea was crazy. But he persevered against a series of doubts and obstacles. They said he needed a better idea; designers backed Chester’s concept. The board said it would never be able to be constructed; architects and builders confirmed otherwise. They said he’d never get council approval to build it on top of a hill; he did.
What stands now has become an international sensation, not just in the wine world, but across spectrums as broad as art, science, design, food and tourism.
And inside it is equally impressive with each of the five levels offering incredible stimulation and experiences for the visitor.
The ground floor houses the Alternate Realities Museum, a contemporary art gallery that tells the story of d’Arenberg. This includes a wine sensory room, a virtual fermenter and 360-degree video room. Upstairs you can enjoy experiences such as a vertical masterclass and creating your own wine blend.
There’s also world class dining with the d’Arenberg Cube Restaurant offering a seasonal degustation menu with optional wine matching. Add to that, a tasting room and unparalleled views across McLaren Vale from the many viewing platforms.
Already an icon
Despite only being open for just over a year, the d’Arenberg Cube is already a success. Wine visitation to McLaren Vale has jumped from 300,000 in 2014 to over 800,000 today, much of it to do with Chester’s inspired dream.
“We’re also attracting international attention,” says Chester. “When I travel around the world hosting wine dinners, the first thing people ask me about is the d’Arenberg Cube.”
And the knock-on effect for McLaren Vale and South Australia is immense.
“The d’Arenberg Cube is attracting loads of first-time visitors and it’s given those who’ve been to South Australia a reason to come back,” says Chester. He’s built it. They’ve come. So should you.
For more details on the d’Arenberg Cube and its experiences, visit darenberg.com.au