FIRST LOOK: Penfolds makes Birdcage debut at Melbourne Cup

Fine wine, horse racing and outer space will come together when winemaker Penfolds makes its Birdcage debut at the 2022 Melbourne Cup Carnival on Penfolds Victoria Derby Day.

Inspired by the brand’s first global brand thematic, ‘Venture Beyond,’ the Penfolds marquee experience will be centred around the world of space exploration. 

Comprising four distinct areas in the marquee, guests will passage through the journey of a lunar eclipse; beginning in the ‘Glasshouse’, then the ‘Central Bar’, followed by ‘Total Eclipse’ and finally ‘Outer Space’. Harnessing the colour palette of an eclipse, guests will experience décor of crisp whites and warm champagnes synonymous with daytime, before transitioning through to pinks and reds, symbolising the sun and then darker hues reflecting a total eclipse. To further enhance the guest journey, each room will offer a Penfolds wine matching and distinct culinary experience curated by Scott Huggins, Executive Chef of Magill Estate Restaurant.

Penfolds Chief Marketing Officer Kristy Keyte said: “The introduction of ’Venture Beyond’ as our global thematic is a strategic shift for Penfolds from ‘fine wine’ brand to ‘global luxury icon’. ‘Venture Beyond’ personifies our innovative spirit and desire to push the boundaries through self-belief, and we can’t wait to bring this experience to Flemington.”

The ‘Glasshouse’ will three full walls of glazing boasts views across the Birdcage to the track. Within this space guests will enjoy Penfolds Champagne, rosé and white wines, including Penfolds Max’s Rosé and Penfolds Bin 311 Chardonnay, with a light menu including raw scallops on set dashi with caviar and profiteroles filled with trout butter and roe.

The Glasshouse will shimmer in a palate of silver, white and rose gold with several pendants adorning the ceilings by renowned Australian Lighting designer Mark Douglas, each featuring custom-made and hand-blown fixtures using a mixture of frosted white, mirror and bubble glazing in shades of pink.

In the ‘Central Bar’, a selection of Penfolds red wine will be served including Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon and St Henri complemented by paired dishes including warm crab on tomato ice. Guests will be invited to kick back in the Central Bar and enjoy music from DJ Emma Peters and the ‘Lunar Crooner’, performer Mike Snell, who will serenade guests with an intergalactic themed set.

Penfolds Melbourne Cup

The tasting room, or ‘Total Eclipse’, will offer guests an exclusive tasting experience led by Penfolds ambassadors including a taste of Penfolds 2018 Grange on Derby Day, a vintage released in August of this year and promptly awarded six perfect 100-point scores from leading wine critics around the world. On the three following race days, guests will enjoy a taste of Penfolds newly released Superblend 802.B Cabernet Shiraz. Huggins has designed a small bite, Shaved Mayura Tacos, to pair perfectly with Penfolds flagship Grange and Superblend 802.B to enhance the tasting experience.

The final lunar destination is ‘Outer Space’, featuring a wrap-around balcony to bring guests the trackside experience from the comfort of the marquee. Racegoers are invited to mark the moment with Penfolds and enjoy a selection of red and white wines, plus two space inspired cocktails including ‘Major Tom’ (a delicious Summer Rosé Negroni made with Penfolds Max’s Rosé) and ‘Ziggy Stardust’ (a dry gin Riesling cocktail featuring Penfolds Bin 51 Eden Valley Riesling).

Penfolds has partnered with the Victoria Racing Club under a four-year sponsorship agreement, which commenced in 2021. The partnership includes the naming rights to Australia’s oldest classic race, the Group 1 Penfolds Victoria Derby, and the first day of the world-renowned Melbourne Cup Carnival, Victoria Derby Day. Penfolds is the third naming rights sponsor for the Victoria Derby in its illustrious 166-year-history.

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