Kate’s Collector Cellar Door

Just 40 minutes outside of Canberra is the tiny town of Collector. It’s a pretty little spot where thanks to Old Girl Kate McKay (Howard 1993) the cellar door for Collector Wines has become an increasingly well-known road stop for wine lovers and tourists alike.

Collector Wines is the business owned and run by Kate’s brother-in-law, Alex McKay. Alex started his wine business in 2005 ‘with just a handful of cool-climate grapes and a determination to make elegant, long-lived wines.’ The grapes come from vineyards around the Canberra region and Alex is the ultimate ‘collector’, carefully working with the best parcels of fruit to craft wines that express the varietal and place.

It was in 2016 that Kate, whose family had a history in hospitality, spotted the opportunity to help her brother-in-law to market and distribute his wines. Kate, whose family had run the Lynwood Café in Collector for 10 years from 1999 to 2009, says, ‘Alex had been a one-man band and, having been involved in the Lynwood Cafe, I could see the respect he was getting in the industry, along with the knowledge and experience I had of hospitality, a cellar door in Collector was likely to do well. I had inside knowledge that a good café was going to open there soon in the old sandstone building on Murray Street. I knew we both shared a similar aesthetic, and a commitment to quality and experience that would appeal to discerning consumers of food and wine.’

Since then, the Collector Wines Cellar Door has become a hot tip for travellers heading to and from Canberra, the ski fields or beyond. ‘It really has been lovely to see people who had such fond memories of the Lynwood Cafe, now coming through again and showing such support and appreciation for the wines my brother-in-law and his talented team produce,’ said Kate. ‘It’s a real honour to be involved with him.’
As well as running the Collector Wines Cellar Door, Kate has also been focused on her career in ceramics, and occasionally has some of her work available through the Cellar Door. She graduated from the ANU School of Art in 1999 and has most recently exhibited at the Helen Stephens Gallery in Collector. She’s now looking forward to a show at the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery to be held in September.

Next time you are on the road to Canberra, stop by the town of Collector and visit Kate and the Cellar Door. Popularity is growing so fast, she encourages you to book a tasting ahead of time, although walk-ins are always welcome.

Photography: Felicity Dodd.
Photos left to right, top row: Kate with her Ceramics and the Cellar Door on Murray Street Collector, Kate and her family


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