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Go West

Henty, the Grampians, Pyrenees and Ballarat – there are plenty of tasting treasures to be unearthed in the wine regions of Western Victoria.

We need Western Victoria and its wine. We need its different taste and the perspective it brings: a balanced, middle-weighted, pepper-infused, mint-garnished, spicy, smooth, sometimes savoury, sometimes rustic kind of alternative taste.

Vineyards are vast and isolated here, attached by dirt roads to country towns and sometimes just the smallest of hamlets. Wines are made by men and women of the land, people like John Thomson at Crawford River in the Henty region, who talks of his “peasant genes,” and who has four generations behind him who have farmed sheep and cattle on the land. He and his wife Catherine branched into wine in 1975.

“I didn’t set out to grow grapes,” he says. “I set out to make wine.”

There was, he adds, more money in the latter. It’s a common enough story around these parts.

Western Victoria is a collective term for four independent wine regions: Henty, the GrampiansPyrenees and Ballarat. This is home to Shiraz (plenty of it) and Cabernet Sauvignon (less of it) along with Chardonnay and a little Sauvignon BlancRiesling and Pinot Noir with a gaggle of Italian varieties bringing up the rear.

The Back Story

It’s the flagpoles out front issuing a kind of multi-national wave of welcome that stump first time visitors to Taltarni. There’s the Aussie flag to the forefront shouldered on either side by the American stars and stripes and the French tricolour.

What does it all mean?

 

Like a few wineries in Western Victoria, it’s all about history and foreign influences. Taltarni’s story involves a wealthy Californian owner who set up the operation in 1972, and his long-time French winemaker who laid the foundations for its enduring, elegant wine style.

The French were among the first to see the potential that lay in the Pyrenees, with Cognac-based Rémy Martin arriving at Avoca in 1960, ostensibly to make brandy, but wine quickly followed. They called their enterprise Chateau Rémy. We know it today as Blue Pyrenees Estate.

But the biggest influence on the region was gold. Discovered in the 1850s, it made towns like Ballarat and Great Western magnets for prospectors from around the world.

After the gold, people like Joseph and Henry Best stayed and moved into wine. Joseph built a substantial winery and used unemployed gold diggers to carve out underground cellars. It was the beginning of what came to be Seppelt, one of the biggest Sparkling wine producers in the country.

Henry Best planted vines fronting Concongella Creek at Great Western. But it was the purchase of the site by Frederick Thomson in 1920 that really saw the Best’s Wines story take off.

The Grampians

Western Victoria is a land of wide plains running smack up against some pretty spectacular hills and ranges, none more impressive than the rugged National Park that gives the Grampians its name.

Mountain walkers, climbers and cyclists really love this part of the world. With a range of B&Bs, hotels and camping sites to choose from, most make Halls Gap their HQ. Wineries like Mount Langi Ghiran and The Gap are just down the road.

Mount Langi Ghiran is best known as the producer of archetypal cool climate, peppery Shiraz, which first drew the industry’s attention to a budding new style in the 1980s.

How pepper gets into the wines of Western Victoria to such a degree that it might be called a phenomenon has only slowly been revealed by scientists at Melbourne University working with the winemakers at Mount Langi Ghiran (it’s got to do with a cool climate and wet seasons).

On paper, the region (19 vineyards, eight cellar doors) looks small, but its history and influence belie its size.

The Great Western sub-region was the commercial cradle of Sparkling wine production in Australia at Seppelt and is synonymous with a great Aussie icon, Sparkling Shiraz. Grampians Estate and Seppelt lead the pack, but for added gravitas, tour the Seppelt underground drives to feel the history and finish with a glass of spiced-up red bubbles.

One of the state’s great restaurants, the Royal Mail Hotel, can be found in a highway town called Dunkeld. Five and eight course degustation menus star local produce, alternatively there is an informal wine bar.

Or there are the local Mount Gambier wines to try, including up-and-coming Pinots, at Tosca Browns in Hamilton.

Henty is a developing wine region as far west as you can go before you bang into South Australia. Volcanic, gravelly soils over limestone are the key to some of the best Rieslings in Australia made here at Crawford River Wines.

And what a treat to find a one hat quality restaurant such as The Pickled Pig in Warrnambool.

The Pyrenees

Major Thomas Mitchell, the 19th Century explorer, was a bit of a romantic, clearly. He named this part of the Great Dividing Range, the Pyrenees, as the dense, blue-hued hills reminded him of the mountains dividing France and Spain. Given the hills outside the towns of Avoca and Moonambel rise to 800 metres compared to some 3400 metres in Europe, that’s a bit of a stretch, but point taken. This is a pretty part of the world.

It is here that the wine lover will confront the Pyrenean wine character known in academic circles as 1,8-cineole. The rest of us call it eucalyptus, aka, mint or menthol (the cineole is sourced from leaves and stems that find their way into fermentation), and it’s often found on either a red wine’s bouquet or flavour, or both. Its usual vehicle of choice is the Shiraz grape, which dominates plantings, but it can be found in any number of red wines.

That eucalyptus in wine should be such a powerful influence is not so surprising. Gum trees are everywhere around these parts. For those who applaud its inclusion in wine, it’s part of the land, a question of terroir.

The Pyrenean red winemaking style is understated, medium-bodied and earthy.

Best in Bubbles

And strange as it may seem when so many producers today seek the super cool regions like Tasmania for sourcing grapes for sparkling wines, the Pyrenees does an excellent job with bubbles.

Blue Pyrenees Estate 2010 Midnight Cuvee beat some of the country’s top Sparklings to be named World Champion Australian sparkling at the inaugural Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships in England in 2014. A 100 per cent Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs style, Midnight Cuvee’s success comes thanks to 10 years of refinement in the vineyard and winery by winemaker, Andrew Koerner. And, yes, the fruit is harvested at midnight at optimal coolness.

Taltarni is another leader in Sparkling wine, sourcing grapes grown on the estate in addition to Tasmania for its successful Clover Hill brand.

The region’s great white, whether for still or Sparkling, is Chardonnay. It has undergone changes over the last decade or more, moving away from a rich heavyweight to a more fruit-powered, streamlined number.

At Dalwhinnie, the importation of a Chardonnay clone from Champagne has served to highlight citrus and grapefruit qualities with sustained acidity and textural weight. It is a wine of great presence in the glass.

While Mount Avoca’s early reputation was built on Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz, I suspect that it is the Italians coming through – Pinot Grigio, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Lagrein – that now attract the drinker’s attention.

The adjoining region of Ballarat is smaller again, but its focus on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay indicates that it is heading in a different direction to its neighbour.

Eastern Peake Winery at Coghills Creek is a Pinot Noir maker par excellence, and is one of the few open for tastings seven days. Or, for a relaxed look at the wines of the west over a meal, head to Mitchell Harris Wine Bar in North Ballarat, part-owned by former Domaine Chandon Sparkling winemaker, John Harris.

Events Out West

Avoca Riverside Market  - Dundas & Cambridge Streets, Avoca, on the fourth Sunday of each month.

Blue Pyrenees Estate Avoca Cup  - Avoca Racecourse, Racecourse Road, Avoca, each October.

Grampians Grape Escape Food and Wine Festival  - Showcases regional wine and fare during a month-long festival in April, culminating in the Grampians Escape Weekend tastings, auction, grape stomping and live music in Halls Gap.

Staying out West

Pyrenees

Eagles Nest at Dalwhinnie Vineyard, Moonambel Redbank Chestnut Cottage

Mount Avoca Vineyard Eco-Luxe Lodges, Avoca

Warrenmang Vineyard & Resort, Moonambel

Grampians/Henty

Royal Mail Hotel, Dunkeld

Boroka Downs, Halls Gap

Aztec Escape, Halls Gap

Links Retreat, Ararat 

 

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The Best Tasmanian Wineries & Cellar Doors 2019
Remote, cold and rugged, but above all spectacular, Tasmania’s reputation as a cool climate wine growing region – and holiday destination – par excellence continues to grow, punching well above its weight against those across the Bass Strait. Take a tour of Tasmania’s best wineries and cellar doors for 2019 with this Guide from Wine Selectors. The climate might be cool but Tasmania’s status as a premium destination for food and wine lovers is hotter than ever. While the region saw its first commercial vineyards take root in 1865, these plantings were short-lived, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that winemakers started again in earnest to explore the potential locked up in the soils of old Van Diemen’s Land.  What has become apparent is that, in terms of climate and soil, the region is an ideal place to make cool climate wines really shine. From the sandstone and schist of the Derwent Valley to the peaty alluvial soils of Coal River Valley and the gravelly basalt, clay and limestone of the Tamar, Tasmanian Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in particular have commanded the attention of the world for their heightened flavours, aromas and elegance. Tasmanian Sparkling, too, is now widely regarded as Australia’s finest, evoking favourable comparisons to the qualities of Champagne. Indeed, with some wineries now seeing their third generation take the reins and a host of young guns pushing the envelope, the scene there has become as dynamic and vibrant as the wines that result from such passion and dedication. Read on for Wine Selectors top picks for the best Tasmanian wineries and cellar doors for 2019. Nocton Vineyard Situated in the rolling hills of the upper Coal River Valley, Nocton Vineyard was planted in 1999, making it among the valley’s oldest. Taking its name from an old Scottish term for ‘farmstead where wethered sheep are kept’, it consists of over 34 hectares of ‘winemaking nirvana’, where rich dolerite-based soils and Triassic sandstone subsoil harmonises with pristine air and pure water for sublime growing conditions. Nocton produces a large array of cool climate wines that convey the terroir marvellously, including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Sparkling. They’re even pioneering cool climate Merlot, which is sure to intrigue – visit their cellar door to discover it for yourself. Just 15 minutes from Hobart Airport, it’s a small venue with a big view, offering tailored and tutored tastings with Estate and Reserve labels poured for you to explore and enjoy. 373 Colebrook Road, Richmond TAS 7025 Thursday to Monday 10am to 4pm Visit the Nocton Vineyard website Pooley Wines Established in 1985, Pooley Wines lays claim to being Tasmania’s first third generation wine family. With two unique sites in the Coal River Valley of Southern Tasmania, Cooinda and Butcher’s Hill, they are also Tasmania’s first and only fully accredited environmentally certified sustainable vineyard, with a host of trophies and medals to their name. Across the two sites viticulturist Matthew Pooley and winemaker Anna Pooley produce superb cool climate specialties that express the region at its best, including Pinot G, Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as distinctive takes on Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. No visit to Pooley would be complete without taking a tasting flight at the historic Belmont House, an 1830 sandstone stables and coach house and home to their cellar door. Awarded Gourmet Traveller’s Best Small Cellar Door in Southern Tasmania on four occasions (most recently in 2017 and 2018) as well as Best Wine Tasting Experience in Southern Tasmania in 2016 and 2019, it’s an introduction to premium Tasmanian wine not to be missed. Butcher’s Hill Vineyard & Cellar Door 1431 Richmond Rd, Richmond TAS 7025 Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Pooley Wines website Grey Sands Grey Sands Vineyard seeks to push the boundaries of what is possible in wine, with a focus on exciting the senses through wines that are “concentrated, complex, intriguing and sometimes confronting”. The westernmost of Tamar Valley vineyards, it was started by Bob and Rita Richter on a grass-covered block of land in 1987. Deciding against irrigation, the resulting vineyard is entirely hard, hand-pruned and close-planted to ensure maximum concentration rather than yield. Minimal intervention is the order of the day, allowing the fruit its own natural expression, and across the seventeen varieties grown at Grey Sands there is extraordinary scope to experience wines unlike anywhere else. Those eager to sample the intrigue of Grey Sands are recommended to visit the Grey Sands ‘cellar door’. Distinct from the typical cellar door, Bob and Rita have established a ‘collector’s garden’, a marvellous arrangement of mature conifers, birches, maples, exotic perennials and more to enjoy a picnic in, with a lovely view towards the Tamar Valley. Or join them on their deck, if the weather allows! A genuine one-of-a-kind winery, and a must-see for visitors to the region. 6 Kerrisons Rd, Glengarry TAS 7275 Open the first whole weekend of the month October to April only, 12pm to 5pm, or by appointment. Visit the Grey Sands website. Devil's Corner Located along the East Coast of Tasmania two hours by car from Hobart, Devil’s Corner embraces its wild remoteness with a passion to produce award-winning cool climate wines of unmistakeable character, from Riesling to Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and more, as well as an esteemed range of Pinot Noirs. Visitors are encouraged to experience the premium wines alongside the freshly-shucked flavours of Freycinet Peninsula oysters at The Fishers, from the nearby Freycinet Marine Farm, or accompanied by a pizza from Tombolo Café. Undoubtedly however, the highlight – besides wines from the sure hand of winemaker Tom Wallace – is the lookout, an architecturally-designed tower offering unparalleled views of vineyards sweeping down to Moulting Lagoon against the backdrop of the Hazard Ranges. It all makes for a memorable, ultra-modern destination, that’s more than worth the journey.  1 Sherbert Avenue, Apslawn TAS 7190 Open daily from 10am to 5pm Visit the Devil's Corner website Tamar Ridge In the heart of the Tamar Valley and on the banks of the Tamar River you’ll find Tamar Ridge, where passion and science meet in pursuit of premium wines. Primarily specialising in Pinot Noir but with Pinot G, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling also in the mix, vines are planted on northerly and north-easterly undulating slopes, with soils consisting of clay subsoils and topsoils of quartz sand to clay loam. The differing soil types allows the planting of a variety of Pinot Noir clones, while the strong maritime climate protects the grapes from the extremes, with long sunny days and gentle rains producing the ideal growing conditions for wines of quality and character. At the Cellar Door, visitors can taste their way through an immersive flight of Pinot Noir and other cool climate specialties, and share a bit to eat from local seasonal platters from on-site friends Hubert + Dan on the deck, or down on the lawn, enjoying enchanting views of the pristine Tamar Valley. Sublime. 1A Waldhorn Drive, Rosevears TAS 7277 Open daily from 10am to 5pm Visit the Tamar Ridge website Bay of Fires Home to three premium wines labels in their own right – House of Arras, Bay of Fires and Eddystone Point – Bay of Fires Cellar Door is a wine lover’s dream. Each label focusses on different winemaking philosophies and styles, but one thing is consistent between them – they all reflect the unique Tasmanian terroir of their surroundings. A collaborative venture founded in 1990 by a team of passionate winemakers and viticulturists sharing a common dream, Bay of Fire presents alluring wines that are distinctly Tasmanian – handpicked, and specially selected for quality and character. The cellar door itself, a modern, welcoming venue, offers sweeping views over the vines, the winery and Pipers River, set amidst an ideal backdrop of beautiful, established gardens. Seated Tastings are available, where visitors are taken through the details of Methode Traditionelle Sparkling winemaking for Vintage Arras Sparkling Wines, before delving into Bay of Fires’ still wines and notable award winners. There’s also the 1.5hr Premium Arras Experience, offering a tour of the winery and vineyard before proceeding through a tasting of $500 worth of Arras Sparkling at a private tasting. Hard to beat, for those looking to indulge a little! 40 Baxters Road, Pipers River TAS 7252 Open Thursday to Monday, 10am to 5pm Visit the Bay of Fires website Josef Chromy Recognised for his commitment and contribution to quality food and wine in Tasmania, Josef Chromy OAM has owned and developed some of Tasmania’s leading wineries such as Rochemcombe, Jansz and Heemskerk. Josef Chromy Wines is the culmination of his experience in Tasmania’s Tamar Valley, offering visitors a chance to explore the passion and product of one of our premier winemakers with tastings, vineyard tours, and more. Today, his charming cellar door is set inside the original 1880s homestead, surrounded by stunning manicured gardens, and idyllic views over the surrounding vineyards and lakes. Relax inside by the open log fire, or stop for lunch in the hatted Josef Chromy Restaurant for excellent locally sourced produce matched to the elegant, cool climate Sparkling, aromatic whites, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on offer. One of the pinnacles of Australian winemaking, and an essential stop on any wine tour of Tasmania. 370 Relbia Rd, Relbia TAS 7258 Open daily from 10am to 5pm Visit the Josef Chromy website Moorilla at Mona No mention of Tasmania’s cellar door scene could pass without listing Moorilla at MONA. The second Tasmanian winery to be established and the longest in continual operation, Moorilla was founded in 1962 and focusses on a small, yet high quality output with estate-grown fruit, small batch winemaking in a gravity-assisted winery. The best way to experience their ultra-premium wines is at MONA’s exquisite cellar door. Take a seat beneath a bona-fide John Olson masterpiece to sample their iconic wines, which emphasise texture and complexity as well as Sparkling styles. There are over 18 to choose from, but if you’re craving something different, selections from their Moo Brew beer label are also available to explore. Or better still, take a guided tour of the Moorilla Vineyard, and taste vino straight from the tank for the ultimate way of immersing yourself in the works of a legendary name in Tasmanian winemaking. 665 Main Road, Berriedale 7011 Open daily 9:30am to 5 pm Visit the Moorilla website Pipers Brook Nestled in the heart of Tasmanian wine country, Pipers Brook Vineyard in the Tamar region has been producing exceptional cool climate wines since 1974. The unique combination of geography, temperate climate and proximity to Bass Strait helps to capture the purity of Tasmania across their range of award-winning wines, with particular emphasis given to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling along with Sparkling – all estate-grown and bottled for the highest control of the resulting product. Tasmania’s largest family-owned winemaker, its cellar door offers tastings of the Pipers Brook, Kreglinger and Ninth Island ranges for you to sample while learning about the vineyard’s history, with a café offering a seasonal menu of locally-sourced produce that makes for a perfect grazing experience. For those after something a little more exclusive, guests can book the two-bedroom Pipers Brook Villa and wake each morning to stunning views overlooking the estate’s vineyards. Further, if you’re travelling by campervan, make sure to book ahead to secure free onsite RV parking. Beat a path to Pipers Brook, and experience all that one of the original pioneers in Tasmanian wine has to offer. 1216 Pipers Brook Rd, Pipers Brook TAS 7254 Open daily from 10am to 4pm (Summer), Thursday to Monday 11am to 4pm (Winter) Visit the Pipers Brook website More information For more information on visiting Tasmania, be sure to visit the official  Wine Tasmania website . But, if you'd like to sample some of the wineries listed in this guide before you visit, explore our wide selection of  Tasmanian wines and find out more about the wineries listed here in our  Meet the Makers section. What’s more, with the Wine Selectors Regional Release program, you'll experience a different wine region each Release with all wines expertly selected by our Tasting Panel, plus you'll receive comprehensive tasting notes and fascinating insights into each region. Visit our  Regular Deliveries  page to find out more!
Wine
Yarra Valley’s Best Cellar Doors and Wineries
Start planning your next trip to the Yarra Valley with our latest cellar door guide to this premier cool climate wine region.  The Yarra Valley is an easy one-hour drive from Melbourne’s CBD – arrive there and you’ll find an almost endless choice of premium wineries, cellars doors, restaurants and exciting experiences. To help make the most of your time in this spectacular cool climate region, we’ve selected a collection of wineries that provide great cellar door experiences. With a such a diversity of terroir, the Yarra Valley is able to produce a wide range of classic wine styles and is renowned for its Chardonnay ,  Sauvignon Blanc , and  Pinot Noir , Sparkling wines  and innovative savoury  Rosés . You can find out more about the wines on offer in our  Yarra Valley region guide here. YARRA VALLEY MUST-VISIT WINERIES Helen & Joey Estate
Established in 2010, Helen & Joey Estate is a family owned winery producing outstanding cool climate wines from their 85-acre vineyard located in the Yarra’s Gruyere sub region. Nestled in the Warramate foothills, a visit to their cellar door will leave you feeling like part of the family. Senior winemaker Meg Brodtmann MW is the first female Master of Wine in Australia, and has many years’ experience making wine all around the world. Meg works closely with vineyard manager Jamie McGlade to produce sensational Pinot Gris, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.  Enjoy a wine tasting across their Inara, Layla, Alena, Late Harvest, and Wayward Child ranges whilst soaking in the stunning views from the Helen & Joey deck. 2-14 Spring Lane, Gruyere Open 7 days a week (except Christmas day) 10am - 5pm Visit the Helen & Joey Estate Website Oakridge
While, the Oakridge’s vineyards and winery were established back in 1978, their contemporary cellar door was opened in 2013. With its sleek industrial lines, the striking, architect-designed building is in bold contrast to the surrounding vines. Step inside to sample a superb range of award-winning wines including Pinot Gris, Semillon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet and more. Treat yourself to lunch at Oakridge’s one-hatted restaurant where chefs Matt Stone and Jo Barrett serve seasonal menus based on fresh ingredients from the Oakridge kitchen garden, as well as wild produce they discover on foraging and fishing excursions around the region. 864 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream  Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Oakridge Website Coombe Farm
Tasting Panellist and wine show judge, Trent Mannell says, “Coombe Farm is a remarkable winery and a destination with a real sense of history.” The enchanting  Coombe Farm  cellar door is set within the grounds of the historic Melba House, constructed in 1912 by famed opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. The exquisite gardens, lovely restaurant, and Melba Gallery are not to missed. Melba’s Morning Tea is available from 9:30am Saturdays and Sundays, while a special high tea experience is at 2:30pm every Wednesday and Saturday through June and August. The estate grown, limited production wines are elegantly varietal and regionally expressive.  673 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream Open 9:30am to 5pm Tuesday to Thursday, 9:30am to 3:30pm Friday and Saturday, 9:30am to 5pm Sunday and public holidays Visit the Coombe Farm Website Soumah
Located down a country lane in the dress circle of the Warramate foothills, the Soumah cellar door offers, not only a fantastic tasting experience, but also spectacular views of the vineyards and the surrounding Warramate Hills. “Our focus at Soumah is on making wine with the charm of Northern Italy, but with the provenance of the majestic Yarra Valley,” says Soumah director, Brett Butcher. “We’re best known for our Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and are also gaining a good reputation for Viognier and Syarah, plus our passion for the Northern Italian varieties with our Nebbiolo, Brachetto, Pinto Grigio and Savarro ( Savagnin). Along with its casual tastings, Somuah has a premium wine rooms where you’re treated to six exclusive samples selected from their reserve quality, limited production and museum release wines. You can also enjoy a glass of wine or two at their restaurant, Trattoria d’Soumah which serves up excellent Northern Italian cuisine like antipasti, pasta, wood fired pizza, cheese and dessert, seven days a week, with extra options offered on Saturdays and Sundays. 18 Hexham Rd, Gruyere Open 7 days a week 10am to 5pm Visit the Soumah Website Punt Road Wines
The  Punt Road Wines  cellar door is the perfect place to sample a fine selection of single vineyard, estate grown wines. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, and Chardonnay, in particular, are all exceptional. Enjoy a cheese platter, a glass or a full wine flight, chat with their team and experience why they spend every day here. Relax outdoors on the back-garden lawn with a Gundowring ice cream or try your hand at bocce.  Tasting Panellist, Adam Walls  loves visiting the Punt Road cellar door – ‘It has such a warm and welcoming feel and the quality of both the wine and cider on offer is very high!” 10 St Huberts Road, Coldstream Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Punt Road Website Domaine Chandon
Every Aussie Sparkling wine lover needs to experience the joie de vivre of Domaine Chandon. In the mid 1980s, leading Champagne house Moet & Chandon established Domaine Chandon, considering the Yarra Valley as a leading location for the cool climate Sparkling grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.  The stunning cellar door and winery melds traditional Champagne architecture with modern Australian design. Its cavernous 72,000 bottle climate-controlled riddling hall, stunning colonnade wall and restaurant overlooking their Green Point vineyard are all world class. As of course are the wines, including the Chandon Brut that was awarded Best Australian Sparkling Wine at the 2018 Champagne & Sparkling Wines World Championships. The terrific self-guided tour of the winery allows visitors to examine up close the full winemaking process from the expansive winery, barrel and riddling halls, all with informative interactive guides. 727 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream  Open daily 10:30am to 4:30pm Visit the Domaine Chandon Website Giant Steps
“Making wine is often done hidden in sheds in distant wineries. That’s no how we do it. We like our winemaking as transparent as the big glass wall between our winery and cellar door,” Steve Flamsteed, Giant Steps chief winemaker and 2016 Gourmet Traveller Winemaker of the Year. Located in Healesville, the Giant Steps complex is a fantastic wine and food experience that shouldn’t be missed. The remarkable venue features a restaurant, café, private dining rooms and a cellar door built directly within their working winery separated by floor to ceiling glass. Visitors are surrounded by the winemaking process with tastings held in the barrel hall tasting room allowing further insight into the happenings of vintage.  All day grazing plates are available with a new menu of beautiful and seasonal dishes on offer Friday and Saturday evenings. 336 Maroondah Highway, Healesville  Open 11am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, 11am till late Friday and Saturday, 11am to 7pm Sunday Visit the Giant Steps Website Dominique Portet
When you visit the gorgeous Dominique Portet Winery, you’ll be enjoying wines crafted by 9th generation winemaker Dominique Portet and his son Ben, who is the family’s 10th generation winemaker. Their cellar door is absolutely charming with a Mediterranean-inspired terrace cafe overlooking the rolling vineyards. Take time to sit and relax while sampling their exceptional Rosé, Sparkling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.  870 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream Open daily 10am-5pm Visit the Domonique Portet Website Rob Dolan Wines
A Yarra Valley winemaking stalwart of over 25 years, Rob Dolan launched his label in 2010 and in 2014 was awarded the  James Halliday Best New Winery . His farmhouse cellar door combines welcoming spaces where you can taste Rob’s premium wines, plus sample the delicious Stone & Crow cheeses that are matured at the winery by cheesemaker and founder Jack Holman. Enjoy a platter of local produce including pâté, terrine, olives, and a fantastic range of Rob Dolan pickles, pastes, relishes and jellies. Located in Warrandyte, just 30 minutes from Melbourne’s CBD, this charming cellar door makes for the perfect start or conclusion to any visit to the Yarra Valley. 21-23 Delaneys Road, South Warrandyte Open Daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Rob Dolan Wines Cellar Door Website De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate
One of Australia’s iconic wine producers, De Bortoli Wines   was established in  Griffith, NSW in 1928 by Italian immigrant, Vittorio De Bortoli. Even in his wildest dreams, he never imagined he would establish an Australian winemaking dynasty. The baby of third generation Leanne De Bortoli and her husband Steve Webber (who is De Bortoli’s chief winemaker), the Yarra Valley vineyard was established in 1987. The vineyard has produced excellent wines with De Bortoli winning the coveted Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1997. The cellar door is set in a stunning location with vines in every direction. Along with their wide range of wines, what makes De Bortoli a particularly nice winery to visit is the marriage of wine with cheese. The extensive selection of local and imported cheeses in this friendly cellar door is outstanding and perfectly complements De Bortoli’s excellent cool climate Yarra Valley wines and those from their other regions. Upstairs, The Locale Restaurant offers an authentic Italian dining experience with the menu reflecting the best local seasonal produce and featuring veggies from their garden, homemade pasta and delicious authentic Italian risotto.  58 Pinnacle Lane, Dixons Creek  Visit the De Bortoli Yarra Valley Estate Website Yering Station
No visit to the Yarra Valley is truly complete without a visit to  Yering Station . This winery is a destination in and of itself with an exceptional architect designed restaurant and bar, historic cellar door, art space, underground barrel room, local produce store, monthly farmers market and stunning grounds. The first vineyard in Victoria was established on this site in 1838, and that history is enshrined in the old winery that now serves as the cellar door and gallery.  Choose from several different tasting experiences to enjoy the excellent range of wines (including Chardonnay, Rosé, Shiraz, Pinot Noir and of course, Sparkling wines) crafted by chief winemaker Willy Lunn and his talented team. Open seven days from 12pm, the Yering Station Restaurant serves a superb French-inspired menu under the leadership of executive chef, Maxime Croiset. The monthly farmers market held in Yering Station’s historic barn is the oldest farmers’ market in Victoria and is a must if you are fortunate to be in the area. Be sure to check the  Yarra Valley Regional Food Group’s page  for more details on the market. 38 Melba Hwy, Yarra Glen  Open daily Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6pm  Visit the Yering Station Website Seville Estate
One of the oldest continually operating wineries in the Yarra Valley, Seville Estate was named the Winery of the Year at the 2019 James Halliday Wine Companion Awards. “Our philosophy at Seville Estate is to capture the fruit expression of this unique vineyard, in wine styles that show cool climate complexity and finesse,” says Dylan McMahon, winemaker. Their famed Shiraz and Pinot Noir are excellent examples of the region’s terroir. “Seville Estate is a Yarra Valley icon, the higher elevation of the estate’s vines allows the grapes to ripen slowly to produce elegant cool climate wines perfect for Pinot Noir,” explains Trent Mannell, Tasting Panellist. Situated further southwest towards Yellingbo and with a charming casual aesthetic overlooking a classic Australian bushland setting, the  Seville Estate  cellar door makes for the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. The newly opened restaurant offers lunch on Friday through Sunday, and dinner Friday and Saturday nights. 65 Linwood Rd, Seville  Open daily 10am to 5pm Visit the Seville Estate Restaurant Tarrawarra Estate
“There are so many great cellar doors in the Yarra Valley, but TarraWarra must be on your short list,” says Trent Manell, Tasting Panellist. “Situated on 400 hectares of prime land beside the Yarra river, TarraWarra’s wines are meticulously grown, handpicked, vinified and aged on the estate,” he says. The spectacular  TarraWarra Estate  cellar door is built into the earth of the wineries’ rolling hillside and is a stunning place to sample their premium-quality wines. Serving delicious dishes inspired by the estate’s kitchen garden and prepared by head chef Mark Ebbels, the renowned restaurant further cements TarraWarra as an exceptional Yarra Valley winery experience.  311 Healesville-Yarra Glen Road, Yarra Glen Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am to 5pm Visit the TarraWarra Website Helen's Hill
Nestled at the bottom of its eponymous hill, Helen’s Hill is a 100% family-owned and operated vineyard and cellar door, and a must-visit for those interested in the inner workings of the winemaking process. The cellar door reveals floor to ceiling views of the winery and barrel hall, providing a real sense connection to the wines that are hand crafted by winemaker Scott McCarthy and his team. Enjoy tasting of Helen’s Hill cool climate regional range including premium Arneis, Fume Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Don’t miss The Wine Deck for a casual snack or lunch and tasting in the garden. For beer lovers there’s another treat – a fantastic range of carefully brewed small batch craft beers. A tribute to the family’s furry members, the Caesars Pale Ale, Brutus’ Amber Ale and Archie’s Pale Ale are all easy drinking styles that go really well with food. 16 Ingram Road, Lilydale  Open daily 10am to 5pm  Visit the Helen's Hill Website Yering Farm
Owned and operated by Alan and Vicki Johns, Yering Farm is located on the original site of the Yeringa Vineyards once owned by the Deschamps family in the 1800s.The Johns family, who are fifth generation orchardists, resurrected the property in 1980 with the replanting of the 30-acre vineyard starting in 1989. The original Yeringa Vineyard sign adorns the entrance of the rustic cellar door and the whole property exudes charm and commanding views of the Yarra Valley. All of Yering Farm wines, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, are produced on site from estate grown fruit. Enjoy a tasting and a Yering Farm 'Pruner's Platter’ by the fire or out on the large verandah where you can take in the gorgeous views. You can also bring your own picnic or use the BBQ facilities for a small fee (bookings essential). A tasting at Yering Farm wouldn’t be complete without trying Alan's Farmyard Apple Syder (cider), it's delicious! 19-21 St Huberts Rd, Yering  Open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm  Visit the Yering Farm Website
Wine
Wine Traveller Mornington Peninsula
Words by Mark Hughes on 25 Jan 2018
Just an hour’s drive from Melbourne, the Mornington Peninsula is a slice of paradise with its alluring blend of calm bays, eucalypt forests, farmland and surfable southern swells. It is also a mecca for quality produce, from strawberries to apples, olives to cheese, and of course, wine. The cool maritime climate allows for elegant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, along with a host of alternative varietals, and it is the recognised birthplace of Pinot Grigio in Australia. While wine has long attracted visitors, the region’s culinary offerings have also been garnering plenty of praise of late. Many are located in wineries and one of the first you’ll find just off the Mornington Peninsula Freeway from Melbourne is Yabby Lake. Winemaker Tom Carson is renowned in these parts and his award-winning wines provide the perfect match to the delicious seasonal fare served up by chef Simon West at their relaxed cellar door and restaurant. Think asparagus and gorgonzola tart enjoyed on the verandah overlooking the vineyards. 
Not far down the freeway near Dromana is a man and a place of legendary status – Garry Crittenden from Crittenden Estate. Garry planted one of the first vineyards in the region over 35 years ago. These days, his son Rollo is winemaker, producing classy flagships and unique alternative varietals. On the picturesque Crittenden Estate, you’ll find gorgeous lakeside villas and the delightful Stillwater at Crittenden Restaurant. Originally a small café built by Garry’s wife Margaret, it was taken over by dynamic duo Zac and Jacqui Poullier, who impress with a menu of shared plates and a la carte dishes such as corn fed duck breast with boulangere potato, pumpkin puree and local cherries.  Just up the road sits Foxey’s Hangout. Two decades ago, brothers Michael and Tony Lee made a tree change, trading in their Melbourne-based hospitality business for a life making wine on the Peninsula. Pop in for a wine tasting, then grab a deck chair on the verandah and enjoy seasonal shared plates while overlooking the sloping vineyard.
Everything and anything You’ll find both ends of the food spectrum in this amazing region. Rebecca Ettridge started Wombat Café, the Mornington Peninsula’s first all vegan café, which sits in a row of shops opposite a series of walking trails towards Dromana. It serves breakfast, lunch and a range of take home meals as well as awesome organics smoothies such as the High Roller – banana, chia seeds, peanut butter, vanilla and almond milk topped with peanut crumble.  Up the rise to Red Hill and along Arthur’s Seat Road, you’ll find one of the Peninsula’s new gems behind an old Liberty service station; Red Gum BBQ – a low and slow American-style barbecue joint run by enterprising young couple Melissa and Martin Goffin. What started out as barbecues for friends grew into pop ups at markets and finally, they took the leap, left their jobs and opened Red Gum in an old truck mechanic shed. Big, open and with a rockin’ country music sound track, it is fun for the whole family. Try a range of local brews while sampling smoked specialities such as beef brisket and pulled pork with sides of cornbread and Melissa’s secret slaw recipe. 
Perfectly paired From Red Hill, head towards Merricks  and you’ll come to the impressive Polperro, where unflappable owner and winemaker Sam Coverdale has created a triple treat: stylish wines, luxurious villas and a stunning bistro. It has outdoor seating for the summer and a cosy fireplace in the winter to enjoy dishes such as grass-fed beef fillet with truffle custard, pea purée, asparagus and beef jus.  Not far away is a winery and restaurant of renown, Paringa Estate. Chef Adam Beckett presides over a seasonal menu that has earned a chef’s hat for five straight years. His King George whiting with pea crumb, broccoli and half turned potatoes is nearing acclaimed status. Ten Minutes by Tractor is equally revered in the dining stakes. Chef Stuart Bell’s Fromagarie Menu is perfect if you’re on the go, or settle in for his eight-course degustation if you have all afternoon.  If you’re keen for food and activity, head towards Shoreham to Montalto. They have quality wines and a recently renovated restaurant that makes use of produce from their vege patch. They also have an amazing sculpture-in-the-vines trail through their vineyards, which is a great way to walk off a decadent lunch. 
Jumping Jackalopes Without doubt, the most talked about development on the Peninsula in years is  Jackalope Hotel. Built onto the existing structures at Willow Creek Vineyard at Merricks North, it offers super high end accommodation, whose every hallway and open space is a veritable art gallery. It is also home to the mind-blowing Doot Doot Doot restaurant, where chef Martin Webster’s edgy cuisine is wowing diners and has already scored a hat. Its 1200-bottle wine list is simply stupendous. If you’re looking for something a little more relaxed, the same venue hosts Rare Hare cafe, whose wood-fired oven signals more casual but still impressive lunch fare. Not far from Jackalope is the iconic Merricks General Wine Store, which is a welcoming café, cellar door and an art gallery all in one. Then head south to the hamlet of Flinders. Here, you’ll find a quaint General Store, whose shelves stock gourmet goods and local beers, Georgie & Bass, a café and cookery school, and  Mornington Peninsula Chocolates. If you’re down this way, follow the  southern coastline past world famous golf courses and the RACV’s spectacular state-of-the-art resort at Cape Schanck (due to be completed in April) and head towards Rosebud to find Blue Mini Eatery & Emporium. Owner and all-round go-getter Tracey Fleming has filled an old bowling alley with eclectic furniture and works by local artists (most of which are on sale) to create a place where you feel instantly at home. Chef John Ward dishes up a menu of fresh, zesty organic fare, while Tracey, who caters events all over the Peninsula, has recently launched Boneo Road Roasters, roasting her own coffee using ethically sourced beans. 
Peninsula Produce If you’re keen to get more intimate with the amazing food of the region, there are plenty of places where you can sample produce fresh from the source.  At Benton Rise at Tuerong, Ryan and Deb Sharpley have a perfectly balanced aquaponics system sustainably farming veges and salads alongside rainbow trout. Ryan also grows exotic mushrooms, which he supplies to local restaurants. In addition, every weekend, they host the local farmers’ markets in an old ‘red rattler’ train carriage. Get there early, as once the produce is gone, it’s gone. And there’s lots more. You can sample an amazing array of bee delights at Pure Peninsula Honey, try fresh goat’s cheese (and pat baby goats) at Main Ridge Dairy, pick berries at Sunny Ridge Strawberry Farm, crunch on fresh apples and down ciders at Mock Red Hill, or taste estate-grown olive oil over lunch in a gorgeous setting at Green Olive at Red Hill.  The more time you spend on the Mornington Peninsula, the more you appreciate this remarkable region, its glorious produce and the wonderful characters plating up perfection. Discover the Mornington Peninsula in style by designing your ultimate drive with Avis. With Avis Signature Series you can choose the exact model of BMW or Mercedes you like. Any drive, anywhere. Visit avis.com.au for details.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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