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Wine

Fruits of the Forest

The produce of Western Australia’s Southern Forests is world renowned, the wines of the region are starting to follow suit.

It’s hard not to be intoxicated by the Southern Forests region, with its towering forests, cascading waterways, sprawling valleys dotted with vineyards and orchards quilted with blossoming fruit trees. This special place is a leisurely three-hour drive from Perth and winds through some of the most fertile land in the world – home to a tapestry of fresh produce. While this quintessentially Australian landscape was historically timber-milling and tobacco country, today it is Western Australia’s third largest wine region – and one of the nation’s richest agricultural districts.

Situated in the lower south west corner of WA, the Southern Forests has over 80,000 hectares of prime agricultural land and includes the Manjimup, Pemberton and Great Southern Geographical Indications (GIs). With its high altitude, cool climate and rich, loamy karri soils, the region is suited to the production of Burgundy-style wines with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay simply thriving in this lush environment. More recently, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Verdelho, Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Franc have also emerged as important varieties.

And with Margaret River as its neighbour, it is not surprising that this district is forging a solid reputation for its premium cool climate wines to match its world-class produce.

The Southern Forests’ reputation as a top culinary tourism destination has grown exponentially since the introduction of the Genuinely Southern Forests campaign and now the vignerons want their wines to share that international platform. As a result, the Manjimup and Pemberton wine associations are in the process of amalgamating to create a unified brand to further promote their wines to the world. If approved, it will be known as the Wine Industry of the Southern Forests.

“This move will allow us to operate more efficiently in association with the Southern Forests Food Council (SFFC) and effectively benefit all of the membership with the administration and distribution of funds from the recently established Agricultural Produce Commission,” says Mark Aitken of Woodgate Estate.

“For WA to be acknowledged as one of the premier wine growing regions in the world, it needs a critical mass of strong regional brands each with a unique identity in the same way the rest of the great wine regions of the world now operate.”

According to Vic Peos from Peos Estate, this move will allow Southern Forests winemakers to achieve this recognition and continue evolving their styles in the international domain.

“We aim to grow the value of agriculture and give educational opportunities to future generations so they can live, work and have a quality lifestyle within the area. This will also create vibrancy and jobs within the community,” he says.

While the Peos family have been in the region for 80 years, it wasn’t until 1996 that Vic and his three brothers created Peos Estate as a legacy to their late father and grandfather who cultivated grapes in Macedonia a century ago before migrating to Manjimup in the 1950s.

Over the years, the Peos family has farmed dairy cattle, potatoes, cauliflowers and beans so it was no great leap for their farming pedigree to be put to use to cultivate wine grapes.

“Manjimup is one of the coolest regions in WA which allows for distinctive fruit flavours to be enhanced and the sustained ripening period gives some varieties the ability to age and slowly mature.

“Our single vineyard Shiraz is a perfect example of this with its medium-bodied, savoury and complex flavours which are powerful, yet elegant. It is also a great match with food to give you a wonderful culinary experience,” explains Vic.

Epicurean Delights

To say these vignerons are spoilt for choice when it comes to food matching selections to pair with their wines is a huge understatement. It is a melting pot of flavours here with these privileged winemakers having a bountiful choice of seafood, dairy, meat, fruit and vegetables at their fingertips to enhance the gastronomic journey.

Silkwood Wines is one such establishment that has opened a restaurant at its cellar door, showcasing its range of wines and locally harvested produce. All it takes is one afternoon of sitting on the deck overlooking the lake whilst enjoying a glass of their vibrantly fresh Sauvignon Blanc and a tasting plate to become immersed in this region.

At Chestnut Grove, winemaker David Dowden is undertaking wild ferments with his Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs to create an extra layer of complexity, texture and finesse in his wine stable. And not content with wine production alone, the winery is now making a verjuice from its deliciously fruity Verdelho, as well as an extra virgin olive oil.

Whilst most produce will flourish in this fertile land, Monica Radomiljac from Pemberley of Pemberton, says living in ‘karri country’ can be challenging.

“The soil here is too good and too rich. In order to prevent the vines from growing as huge as their famous neighbours, the karri trees, we have to stress the plants using techniques such as minimal or no irrigation and hard pruning,” says Monica.

“This results in grapes that are vibrant with flavours and alive with freshness when they are harvested for crushing from February to April each year.”

Living in Harmony

This symbiotic relationship between the soils and vines extends to something devilishly smelly that also grows here and has gourmands around the world salivating for its pungent, earthy flavours. I am referring to the elusive black Perigord truffle that originated in France and has now, somewhat surprisingly, found a new home in Manjimup. So firmly are their spores entrenched in these soils that the Truffle and Wine Co. is now the largest producer of black truffles in the world.

The marriage of food and wine is such an intrinsic part of any culinary journey and it is at this trufferie where you can experience a truffle and wine degustation lunch with a range of wines that have been specifically created to enhance your truffle experience.

“The fresh produce is a result of committed farming families who aren’t afraid to push the boundaries,” says the Truffle & Wine Co.’s Amber Atkinson.

“A prime example is the new Bravo apple. Research, development and thinking outside the square led to the introduction of truffles to Manjimup. Wine production is no different and wineries from this region continue to gain momentum, which is reflected by wine show accolades across the country.”

As I leave the truffles in my wake, I pass many roadside stalls and open farm gates. There are native finger limes, apples, chestnuts, berries, stone fruit, avocados, cherries, brassica beef, dairy, potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower, to name but a few. You can even throw a fishing line in the river for trout and, at certain times of the year, you can snare freshwater marron, endemic to this wonderful region, from one of its many watercourses.

“We aim to celebrate the people, place and produce by creating exceptional culinary experiences,” says Southern Forests Food Council GM, Jayme Hatcher.

“This pristine part of the world still remains relatively undiscovered with its complementary offering of produce and wines, which makes this region a genuine foodie’s dream.”

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Top Five Wineries and Cellar Doors to visit in Coonawarra
Discover the best of Coonawarra’s wineries and cellar doors to taste and experience the region’s delights with our guide and interactive map. Australia’s ‘other red centre’, Coonawarra is 450kms from Melbourne and 370kms from Adelaide, and is located in the heart of South Australia’s Limestone Coast. The region boasts some of the most sought-after vineyard soil in Australia, and with vineyards positioned just 80kms from the Southern Ocean, the vines are assured of a long, cool ripening period producing wines of fantastic balance, richness, intensity and longevity. It’s thanks to Scottish pioneer John Riddoch, who noticed the fertility of the regions’ famed terra rossa way back in 1890, that we can enjoy some of the world’s best Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz . Today, the region is home to a mix of old winemaking families and fresh new talent, and has over 25 cellar doors to visit which all offer wonderfully friendly and delicious experiences. Here are our top five Coonawarra wineries Di Giorgio Family Wines
Don’t miss out on visiting the family owned and operated Di Giorgio Family Wines . Their winery is the second oldest in the district, and their Coonawarra vineyard boasts some gnarly old vines that are over 115 years old. Along with producing premium wines from Coonawarra and Lucindale, the DiGiorgio family sources specific varietal fruit from different areas of the Limestone Coast where they believe the terroir is best suited to the variety. At Di Giorgio’s cellar door, you’re invited to taste a selection of premium wines from their extensive portfolio, plus don’t miss out on their delicious olive oils and the fabulous range of local cheeses. The shaded outdoor seating area is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine with a ‘pick your own produce’ platter. 14918 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra Open daily 10am to 5pm. Closed Good Friday, Christmas Day and Boxing Day Visit Di Giorgio Wines website Katnook Estate
Located just 6 kilometres north of Penola on the Riddoch Highway, Katnook Estate ’s historic cellar door was first built in the late 1800s by the founder of the Coonawarra wine region, John Riddoch.   Today, the beautifully renovated building features locally sourced stone and timbers and provides a wonderful environment to sample a range of Katnook’s premium wines, along with platters of local cheeses.  If you’re visiting during winter, the cosy lounge area with its open fireplace is the perfect place to warm-up and unwind.  Adjacent to the cellar door is the award-winning 'terra rossa pit', where you can get up close and personal with Coonawarra's famous soil profile and learn why it’s so important to flavour of the region’s wines. Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra Open weekdays 10am to 5pm, weekends 12pm to 5pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day  Visit the Katnook Estate website Leconfield Wines
Owned by one of Australia’s original winemaking families, Leconfield Wines is situated just a stones-throw from Katnook Estate along the Riddoch Highway. Built in 1974 by Sydney Hamilton, the limestone winery building has an impressive barrel storage of 2000 barrels, predominantly sourced from France.  Once inside the winery, you’ll be welcomed to the intimate tasting room where you can sample the Leconfield and Richard Hamilton ranges while watching the winemaking team at work. 15454 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra Open weekdays 10am to 4:30pm, weekends and public holidays 11am to 4pm. Visit Leconfield Wines website Rymill Coonawarra
Rymill Coonawarra was established in 1974 by Peter Rymill, the great grandson of John Riddoch who was the founder of Coonawarra. Embracing the pioneering spirit of his forefathers, Peter planted a diverse range of varieties and built a stunning, high-tech winery that is still home to Rymill Coonawarra today. A must-visit destination of the region, the Rymill Coonawarra’s spacious cellar door boasts internal viewing platforms to watch the workings of the winery and external balconies that overlook the beautiful tree lined grounds. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the winery while sampling their range of 100% estate grown wines, then step outside to the gorgeous grounds to enjoy a local produce platter or grazing plate. Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra Open daily 11am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day Visit Rymill’s website Wynns Coonawarra Estate
Wynns Coonwarra Estate is one of the region’s leading producers and largest single vineyard holder with the longest established vineyard sites in Coonawarra. What is now Wynns Coonawarra Estate was founded by Scottish pioneer John Riddoch, who in 1891 planted along the famed terra rossa strip and completed the estate's now iconic three-gabled winery in 1896. Riddoch died in 1901 and Coonawarra languished for the first half of this century. The region’s revival began in 1951 when wine merchants Samuel and David Wynns purchased Riddoch's original vineyards and winery and renamed the property Wynns Coonawarra Estate. The Wynns recognised the amazing qualities of Coonawarra wines and set out to establish an independent identity in the region. They created the famous label that has made John Riddoch's winery one of Australia's most-recognised buildings. 77 Memorial Drive, Coonawarra Open daily 10am to 5pm. Closed Christmas Day. Visit Wynns Coonawarra Estate website Zema Estate
Established in 1982, Zema Estate is a boutique winery owned and operated by three generations of the Zema family. Their modern cellar door overlooks beautiful hand prune vines and offers a wonderfully friendly and authentic experience. All current release wines are available for tasting, plus a stunning selection of cellar door only and museum release wines. You can also indulge in Mrs Zema’s estate-grown and homemade olive oil and chilli paste, and other delicious gourmet produce and that are sourced locally or imported from Italy.   Partial to a good party, the Zema’s also host regular events where you can enjoy Mrs Zema’s fantastic Italian fare of pizza, pasta and arancini while being entertained by local musicians. Keep your diary open for upcoming events including the After Dark – Vintage Celebrations (April), Cellar Dwellers (July), Coonawarra Cabernet Celebrations (October). 14944 Riddoch Highway, Coonawarra Open weekdays 9am to 5pm, weekends 10am to 4pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day. Visit Zema Estate’s website Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail For those who are up to combining a bit of exercise with their wine tasting, the Coonawarra Wineries Walking Trail offers a great opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors and explore the vineyards. Coonawarra Winery Map Planning a trip to Coonawarra? Download our interactive Coonawarra winery map. To save on your browser or device,  click here  
Wine
Mudgee - nest in the hills
Words by Keren Lavelle on 12 Sep 2016
There’s a zest for life, a sense of passion and purpose, among the winemakers, restaurateurs and providores of this Central Western NSW region. Friday night, with the sun setting and the moon rising, is a fine time to arrive at Lowe Wines, high on a hill-rise, with its vista of vines and cerulean blue hills beyond. There’s time enough for a quick catch-up with the very busy winemaker David Lowe, just before hundreds of guests are seated at tables in his winery for dinner and a show. Lowe is a sixth-generation descendant of the first Lowes to take up farming on this property, and he’s a passionate convert to organic, indeed biodynamic, farming measures. "When I took over, the soils here were completely degraded, needing drastic repair, and biodynamics seemed the fastest and best way to fix them,” Lowe says. Biodynamic farming techniques involve burying cow horns with a mixture of fermented manure, minerals and herbs at specific phases in the lunar cycle ‘to harmonise the vital life forces of the farm’, as one authority explains it. While it’s based on belief more than theory, it’s certainly working here. David is famous for his premium, certified organic wines; some made without any preservatives, notably a Shiraz , demand for which is high. Adjacent to the winery is The Zin House, Mudgee’s only restaurant with a SMH Good Food Guide chef’s hat. Chef Kim Curry is David Lowe’s partner, so naturally, flights of Lowe Wines accompany her degustation menus, which are inspired by what’s fresh and in season – 60 to 70 per cent of the ingredients are sourced locally, many of them grown here on the farm. PALPABLE PASSION There is a long tradition of organic winemaking in Mudgee , starting with Australia’s first organic vineyard, Botobolar in 1971. 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The walls of their tasting room are plastered with the awards their wines and cheeses have won. ALL AGES ADVENTURES I discover local passion isn’t confined to producers when I meet ‘mine host’ of Mudgee’s Getaway Cottages, Elizabeth Etherington, a former mayor of Mudgee. These six holiday dwellings appear to be houses on an ordinary street a few minutes’ walk from the centre of town, but you soon discover that they all back onto a 3.64-hectare farm-stay wonderland on the banks of the Cudgegong River. “I’m a baby boomer,” Etherington explains, “and I grew up with plenty of space to play and roam, and with innocent freedom to explore. 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Before being licensed in 1923, when Roth’s was a general store, these were code names for the sly grog chalked up on farmers’ accounts. Also possessing a fine cellar, the recently renovated Oriental Hotel offers an elevated dining/drinking experience (and city views) on its second-storey deck, while at the nearby Wineglass Bar and Grill, owner and chef Scott Tracey serves breakfast, lunch and dinner (and provides chic boutique accommodation) in a restored 1850s former hostelry for mail coaches. BEER AND BITES It’s not all about the wine (and food), however, there are very fine craft beers to be sampled at the Mudgee Brewing Company (another live music venue), housed in a historic wool store; and adjacent to Vinifera Wines there’s Baker Williams Distillery, where distillers Nathan Williams and Helen Baker are having a lot of fun coming up with proof concoctions – butterscotch schnapps, anyone? Good coffee can also be found – at the Wineglass, you can buy the four-shot ‘bucket’, ideal for coping with a bad hangover. One of the most popular breakfast spots in town is the leafy courtyard café at Albie + Esthers, which transforms into a wine bar at night (of course). Tea is not neglected either – exotic varieties (and fresh handmade dumplings) feature on the menu of the delightful 29 nine 99 Yum Cha and Tea House at nearby Rylestone; it’s well worth stopping here for refreshments if you are making the 3.5 to 4 hour drive from Sydney. There’s lots more to explore – the old gold-mining township of Gulgong, the racehorses of Goree Park, the fine streets and shops of Mudgee itself, and more wineries – but when you eventually have to leave, FlyPelican can make light work of the trip with a 50 minute flight to Sydney. (Speaking of ‘light’, and speaking from experience, the aircraft’s 23kg luggage limit means it may be best to freight your wine purchases beforehand.) 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Wine
Great Cellar Doors of South Australia
Words by Louise Radman on 13 Sep 2016
South Australia is renowned for its fantastic wine country. If you are planning to explore the regions around Adelaide here are some top cellar doors that make worthwhile stops on the itinerary. Murray Street Vineyards – Barossa Valley Ranked as the number one locale in Barossa by Trip Advisor for the past two years running, Murray Street Vineyards has earned a reputation as a must-visit destination. Situated in the quiet village of Greenock, this cellar door offers a relaxed and personal experience on the Western ridge. With no tasting bar to separate you from the team, you can try a seated tasting of six wines that honour the rich winemaking tradition of the Barossa in elegant Riedel stemware. Experience the tasting room or the view from the shady pergola on the deck overlooking a typical Barossa setting of manicured vines. You might like to graze on regional cheese and charcuterie platters while enjoying Murray Street’s classic ‘The Barossa’ blend of Shiraz , Grenache and Mataro. 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The luxury reds flight dives deeper into the region to uncover single vineyard wines that showcase the personality of individual patches of earth. Just $20 buys you an exclusive look at the flagship Dead Arm and two Amazing Sites Shiraz, each valued over $200 per bottle. Think The Athazagoraphobic Cat Sagrantino Cinsault or The Old Bloke and Three Young Blondes, starring Shiraz from the oldest and best vines together with young whites; Roussanne, Viognier and Marsanne. Adventure seekers can explore the region in a four-wheel drive or take to the skies for a scenic flight in a Waco plane before settling into epicurean heaven at the award winning d'Arry's Verandah Restaurant. Soon to be housed in a 13 million dollar Rubik’s Cube complex, this legendary cellar door has perfected the art of being different. We can’t wait to see what’s next. darenberg.com.au Skillogalee – Clare Valley Nestled in the contours of the Skilly Hills, Skillogalee has held the title of first and best winery restaurant in Clare Valley for over twenty-six years. Built in 1851, the heritage cellar door is housed in a charming miner’s cottage consisting of tasting and dining rooms with a long verandah overlooking three tiers of cottage garden. The famous vine pruner’s lunch can be enjoyed from prime position under the shade of a large olive tree, while early risers will love the breakfast of potted trout, baked eggs and taleggio. Spend an afternoon on the lawn amid the heirloom roses with a bottle of iconic Skillogalee Riesling and some chicken liver parfait, and duck rillettes. You can taste the full range of estate grown wines including the exceptional single contour Trevarrick series and delicious liqueur Muscat. Don’t forget to pick up house made quince paste, pickled figs, chutney and other goodies from great old trees on the property to stock the larder. This cosy and authentic experience is a longtime favourite of locals and visitors alike. skillogalee.com.au The Lane Vineyard – Adelaide Hills The Lane sets one of the country’s highest standards in cellar doors. The modern tasting space, light filled dining room and sun drenched deck float above the heart of the vineyard with sweeping views of the Onkaparinga Valley and Mount Lofty Ranges. Casual and structured experiences include guided vineyard and winery tours, interactive blending sessions, twilight masterclasses and exquisite luncheons. Estate grown tastings of the Block Series, Occasion and Heritage wine ranges are guaranteed to thrill your senses and soften the edges of daily life. Food and wine are woven together in a paired tasting served in stunning varietal specific stemware with delicate morsels from the kitchen. You can also select from dishes such as spiced almonds, house made chicken liver parfait and ocean trout ceviche to design your own tasting platter. Friendly and professional staff are a fount of local knowledge, walking you through the history and geography of the domaine, farming traditions of the Hills and region’s bid for world heritage status. This is an immersive Australian experience founded on love of place and irrepressible family passion for good food, great wine and friendship. Time moves a little slower at The Lane, why not linger? thelane.com.au
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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