From the moment you pass through the iron gate into the magnificent, National Trust classified ‘Drives’ you’ll feel yourself take a journey back in time. The expansive, rustic tunnels stretch further than the eye can see, enticing you to wander further and explore their rich history.
Locked away, hidden within The Drives, behind a heavy, arched gate, intricately decorated with the Seppelt family shield, iron vine leaves, and bunches of grapes, lies the Ian McKenzie museum, an impressive and valuable private collection of wines dating back to the 1930’s.
Ian McKenzie played an integral role in the Seppelt property becoming one of the most well-known wineries to date. His own ‘Mckenzie Museum’ is carved from the same stone as the Great Western cellars and is an eternal tribute to his name and time on the property.
Ian’s career as a winemaker began in 1959 at the age of 17 as a trainee winemaker for Berri Co-operative Winery and Distillery (BCWD). He stayed for 24 years, working small stints in other wineries in the region to consolidate the knowledge gained in the workplace, and in 1976, after decades of training and guidance, Ian was appointed Chief Winemaker for BCWD.
Later, Ian joined Seppelt at the Great Western property as Victorian Regional Manager as well as Seppelt Chief Winemaker in 1983. Following the formation of Southcorp Wines in which Seppelt was a key brand, Ian was then appointed Southcorp Wines Chief Winemaker in 1991, remaining in this position until he retired in 2002.
When Ian first took over winemaking duties, succeeding Mike Press in 1983, he oversaw the first release of the sparkling Salinger Vintage in 1986. This was made from classic Champagne grape varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. In 1991, Seppelt Salinger 1988 and 1989 jointly won Sparkling Wine of the Year at the London International Wine Challenge. Still to this day, the sparkling Salinger Vintage is the properties most iconic sparkling white variety with a luxurious straw hue and primary crunch of lemon, apple, and pear. The Salinger Vintage as well as its non-vintage counterpart, (released in the early 2000s) are available through the Seppelt Cellar Door and embody the legacy that Ian McKenzie left in Great Western. Under Ian’s reign, other Seppelt varietals went on to win awards at various wine shows including the Jimmy Watson, Australia’s most prestigious wine show trophy in 1992.
During his time on the Great Western property, Ian erected the McKenzie Museum which today houses hundreds of irreplaceable and priceless bottles, some dating back to the 1930s. This collection of prestigious vintages are locked behind Seppelt branded cast-iron gates protecting the historical varietals inside. To this day, Ian watches over this collection, with the addition of more current vintages of Seppelt white, red, and sparkling varietals as they are released.
Today, thousands of tourists a year, from all over the world visit the Seppelt Winery to catch a glimpse beneath the surface and explore the Underground ‘Drives’. The McKenzie Museum is highlighted during the historical underground cellar tour and allows tour-goers to peer behind the beautiful gates and marvel at what lies beyond.
Tours occur 5 times a day, 7 days a week, and leave from the Seppelt Cellar Door.
Bookings are essential to avoid disappointment.