A wine retail outlet like no other opened in Auckland’s Newmarket in October. The Wine Cave is intended to create a subterranean-feeling, luxurious atmosphere that showcases high-end wine to its best effect.
Entering The Wine Cave off Newmarket’s Carlton Gore Rd is not as simple as strolling in for a browse. Shoppers are welcomed into the 554-square-metre space via a reception area, then assisted at the store and tasting area; shown to a multi-purpose warehouse space that’s available for functions; or escorted to The Wine Vault, an exclusive area accessible only by swipe-card.
The Wine Cave co-founder and managing director Joe Wang says he hopes the new venture will become New Zealand’s foremost wine store. It opened on October 13.
“We’re bringing some smart new ideas to the sector, including advanced mobile shopping technology, a membership club and integrated tasting and personalised services,” he says.
“The Wine Cave is at the cutting edge of wine and beverage retail, both in-store and online, and we’re confident it will become a must-visit destination for those keen to savour the very best that New Zealand wine has to offer, as well as those who simply want to combine quality with an affordable wine from one of New Zealand’s many spectacular, but less known boutique vineyards.”
The main showroom
The Wine Cave’s main store and tasting area is home to 435 wines, 60 spirits and a few craft beers. Its interior is designed to showcase the beauty of wine bottles en masse, with back-lighting set inside the display shelving intended to reflect light off the glass.
Architect Liz Tjahjana for P-A-C was behind the project. She says the shelving was meticulously designed and considered alongside the wine journey within the fit-out.
“The wine collection is laid out according to its grape varietals from sparkling, aromatics, all the way through to late harvest and the space is designed to take visitors on this journey through the range of incredible wines on display.”
The rigour of the grid continues over the ceiling, with expressed battens and angled LED tube lights arranged in a pattern forming feature lighting across the space. An eight-metre table is centred in the room for wine tasting.
Every month, 16 new wines will be selected by the sommelier team for customers to taste via a EuroCave wine dispenser. It’s the only one of its kind in New Zealand. Tastings will be priced from $10 per person, and can be booked casually or for functions. Cheese and charcuterie platters are also on offer.
The Wine Cave’s selection is intended to change regularly, and wines are sourced directly from boutique vineyards in small quantities.
The Wine Vault
The Wine Cave’s VIP area is designed to be an intimate space with a limited palette of rich, dark tones and only ambient light. Filled with more than 900 bottles of wine, 60 premium spirits and fine glassware, The Wine Vault features comfortable lounge chairs for customers to curl up in while enjoying the selection.
The vault houses The Wine Cave’s most premium wines. As such, it’s accessible only by swipe card, and customers who want to browse are accompanied by staff. Members of the store’s VIP programme can use this area to host guests and drink wine.
The Wine Cave’s membership programme has three tiers: Silver, Gold and Black. Membership to each tier corresponds to dollars spent in-store, with one “wine dollar” earned for each $6 spent. Members are entitled to exclusive benefits such as special offers and room-hire rates, and free tasting events. For Black-tier members, a private butler service is available.
The warehouse space
The Wine Cave’s warehouse doubles as a spacious room which can serve as a function space catering for 70 standing or 40 seated guests. The design incorporates fairy lights set amidst rows of translucent drapery, with white paper lanterns for a romantic atmosphere.
Architect Liz Tjahjana discusses The Wine Cave
We asked Tjahjana to share some insights about The Wine Cave project.
What was your vision for this project? Has that been achieved?
We wanted to create a theatrical and sophisticated space that showcases The Wine Cave’s extensive collection and the beauty of the wine bottles as an ensemble. Part of the challenge was to create an intimate and engaging wine experience within the large tenancy.
Our response to this vision was to use a palette of dark colours and rich timber tones in contrast with diffused ambient light and LED feature strip lighting. A rigorous vertical grid also forms the rationale for the cabinetry units and LED lighting – creating a uniformity and rhythm which is repeated along the perimeter of the showroom.
Tell us about the design brief you were given by the client.
The brief was to create a refined, upmarket wine store that brings together a wide range of wine from around New Zealand and provides a range of spatial experiences. Our clients had a unique retail concept which we wanted to translate into an elegant and immersive experience.
Were there any compromises that had to be made?
We went through several design iterations and we achieved the client’s vision through prototypes and plenty of discussions. We didn’t see these as compromises but rather opportunities to push the design further than what our clients had in mind originally. The key to this was using the wine bottles as the starting point of the design.
What was the most difficult part of the fit-out?
The most difficult part of the fit-out was everything that the public can’t see! We were required to upgrade the building to meet current code as we were changing its use. Many of the required changes posed difficult technical and compliance challenges. Our close relationship with our client and the contractor meant that we were able to navigate these issues successfully.
Do you have a favourite feature?
I think the black glass benchtop in the main showroom is a really successful feature. I love seeing the reflections of the bottles and the rhythmic pattern of the LED lights on the table, which helps in creating an immersive experience.