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McHenry Hohnen eyes shift to ‘tavern’ in Witchcliffe

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
Murray McHenry said wine connoisseurs would find a cellar door and wine bar at Witchcliffe’s sophisticated new tavern.
Camera IconMurray McHenry said wine connoisseurs would find a cellar door and wine bar at Witchcliffe’s sophisticated new tavern. Credit: Warren Hately/Augusta-Margaret R/Augusta-Margaret River Times

Witchcliffe is on track to get a new venue by late next year, but it won’t be a family-friendly tavern with a children’s playground as some residents believed.

McHenry Hohnen chief Murray McHenry said the tavern licence recently granted by WA’s Department of Liquor and Gaming was the most suitable way to transfer the winery’s existing cellar door and open up to the possibility of showcasing many of the region’s finest wines, as well as some craft beers.

And while the new venue would have a sophisticated kitchen and be open at weekends until 10pm, it would only serve small meals and bites and wasn’t the kind of place where families would visit.

Instead, Mr McHenry said wine connoisseurs would find a welcome respite from the sort of family-friendly taverns proliferating across the region.

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“As you walk into the building, you’ll see the cellar door,” he said.

“That’s the first thing you’ll walk into from the street, and at the back is the wine bar.

“It’s in effect two businesses in one.”

Rather than a playground, the grassed area would be home to a bocce set so people could enjoy a relaxing atmosphere while undertaking wine tastings.

“I’m not interested in Witchcliffe residents just coming in and bombarding the joint,” Mr McHenry said.

“I’m interested in people who are interested in wine.”

The project was a local effort, including veteran builder Gordon Temby and Margaret River architect Theo Matthews.

Mr McHenry said the company opted to put conditions on their liquor licence so as not to compete with the local liquor store, and the concept was generally well received by the community.

He saw growth in Witchcliffe, particularly at the eco village, as a boon for future customers.

While the business could accommodate up to 120 people for events, no permits were yet sought from the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River for that.

The Witchcliffe Community Association did not respond to inquiries.

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