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Our Story

Established in 2013, Down The Rabbit Hole Wines is a family owned, boutique McLaren Vale winery. Our wines are made using biodynamic and organic vineyards and winemaking practices.

Our first vintage began with one wine, our Shiraz. Owner and founder, Domenic Palumbo, was mentored by Walter Clappis, one of Australia’s most outstanding wine makers, who encouraged and supported Dom to start his own label. What began as a passion project on the side quickly took a foothold in our lives as we poured all of our energy into it, and the people of Australia gave it a very warm reception.

Twelve years later we are still dedicated to producing small volume, super premium wine, and in 2019 we opened our cellar door on the property where our family lives, which backs onto the vineyard and winery.

Our winemaking team also includes Walter’s son in law, James Cooter and Walter’s daughter, Kimberley Cooter. 


The Founders

Domenic and Elise Palumbo started Down The Rabbit Hole shortly after getting married. Together they built a brand that was well known not just for exceptional wine, but for an extraordinary experience.

The Winemakers

The talented and accomplished Clappis and Cooter families — Walter, his daughter Kimberley, and her husband James— whose extensive experience, have helped us create the superb wine we all love.

The Executive Chef

Nick Tadija, the culinary maestro behind the magic happening in our kitchen. With passion and focus, Nick’s mission is always to deliver an incredible experience for each and every guest dining at the cellar door, and in our restaurant, Fiore.


Meet the founders

Domenic & Elise Palumbo

Domenic and Elise Palumbo started Down The Rabbit Hole shortly after getting married. Together they built a brand that was well known not just for exceptional wine, but for an extraordinary experience. 

Domenic’s Italian grandparents made wine, his Nonna was a chef, and Dom grew up immersed in the world of wine and food, and taking care of others with these two things as a primary love language.

In his early twenties Dom went down various paths following his love of wine, a wine bar on Rundle Street, a wine wholesale business, helping venues open and train their staff, and restaurant management. When his path crossed with Walter Clappis, because of Dom’s love of Walter’s wine, and Walter encouraged Dom to start making his own wine, it was a pivotal moment that changed the course of his life. Things started small and humble, with a great deal of focus on producing wine that was approachable, delicious, and had a real sense of place. This was done with minimal winemaking intervention to ensure integrity of the fruit from vineyard to bottle. While Dom focused on the wine, his wife Elise occasionally contributed with the branding and the events, and later - less occasionally and more full time.

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After a series of sell out large events, Elise began running a Friday night market in Aldinga, called Fridays After Five, where they also ran the wine bar (with wine tastings!). She ran this for three years and they loved being a part of the very special community and drawing city folk down South every week. 

In 2016 they knew their next step was to open a cellar door, but they also knew the amount of work this would bring with it would keep them working hard for years to come. So, they decided to take a sabbatical and spend a year traveling Australia in their Kombi van, showing the wines around the country as they did. This turned into well over two years traveling in their van, with Dom flying home to the winery when needed. Upon their return they immediately got to work on the property behind the winery, building the cellar door and renovating the old house. 

Dom was determined to have the cellar door open within months, but the task was more monumental than they had realised, and one year of intense hard work later, in late 2019, they opened the Down The Rabbit Hole cellar door. Three months after that, they fell pregnant with their first child, and two months later the pandemic hit.

Fast forward five years and after the cellar door is now thriving, they have introduced another four wines to their offering, they also introduced Dom’s dream, an organic Italian restaurant, they have two children, and they are still living on site in the old house they renovated.


meet our

Wine Making Team

We have been fortunate to continue working with, and doing life with, the Clappis & Cooter families since 2013. A very talented and accomplished family of winemakers, who help us create the superb wine we all love to drink. And all round, wonderful, wonderful people.

Along with Walter Clappis, our winemaking team also includes his daughter Kimberley (Cooter), and her husband James Cooter.

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With Walter's 40 plus years of experience and numerous accolades and trophies, and his extensive knowledge and understanding of biodynamic practices and organic winemaking, he is highly regarded in the industry and by all. Kimberley, who learned the craft from her father, and went on to study winemaking and work in California’s Sonoma Valley with James, before returning home to McLaren Vale, brings fresh ideas and new wine styles to the team. James, with a family history in the wine industry, was born to be a winemaker and quickly established himself as an incredibly skilled one at that. He is now an integral part of the winemaking team. 


Meet our Executive Chef

Nick Tadija

Meet our Executive Chef Nick Tadija, the culinary maestro behind the magic happening in our kitchen. With passion and focus, Nick’s mission is always to deliver an incredible experience for each and every guest dining at the cellar door, and in our restaurant, Fiore. 

He was the dream Chef for our restaurant, and we are constantly thankful he’s here. His food just blows people away, day after day. With an Italian focus, he runs a creative kitchen, constantly changing the menu and getting creative with the produce in season. 

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He believes in letting the ingredients shine, and his love affair with organic produce and the highest quality ingredients is evident in every dish he creates. You’ll often find him in our veggie garden. His ability to orchestrate a seamless and outstanding culinary symphony for guests and staff is a testament to his incredible leadership.


"We define our food and ethos as a love letter to Italy. For us, it means celebrating the diverse regions of Italy, drawing inspiration from tradition while also embracing contemporary influences. We place great importance on sourcing the highest quality produce, ideally from our own garden, when it is at its absolute best." - Nick Tadija

DISCOVER WONDERLAND AT DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE.