Places We Love
On the Grapevine
P :: 03 9699 8148
F :: 03 9690 2902
294 Montague Street
South Melbourne VIC 3205
RutherglenLocated some 260 kilometres north-east of Melbourne, Rutherglen is an overnight destination. Home to old names in the Australian wine industry, the region is famous for its fortified wines. Many of the family owned vineyards date from the late 1800's and the strong sense of history is ever present at many of the cellar doors.
Take the Hume Freeway north from Melbourne and wind your way toward the New South Wales border, arriving late morning in this historic wine region. A visit to the area would not be complete without enjoying the experience at All Saints Estate and it's a fitting place to commence the tour. With its glorious elm covered driveway, beautifully landscaped gardens and imposing castle structure there's so much to take in, even before you've made it to the cellar door. The building, which has been classified by the National Trust resembles the Castle of Mey which is located in Caithness, Scotland, in the parish of All Saints which is where its founder, George Sutherland Smith was born.
Some of the fortified wines that are stored in the Great Hall are up to 80 years old and will form the base of future blends for years to come. The wines are amongst Australia's and the world's greatest and have been internationally extolled for their richness and "lusciousness". All Saints Estate won the first gold medal for Australian wine in 1873 at the London International Exhibition and continues to win trophies and receive rave reviews today.
Enjoy an a la carte lunch at The Terrace Restaurant which is adjacent to cellar door and overlooks sweeping lawns to the vineyards beyond.
A short drive away is Cofield Wines in Wahgunyah. Established by Max & Karen Cofield in 1990, they are especially known for their sparkling wines, in particular the Sparking Shiraz. Max had worked for Seppelts in Rutherglen and with excellent opportunities available developed a keen interest in winemaking. Moving across to All Saints saw him develop those skills and ultimately become a winemaker before beginning his own operation. His sons, Damien & Andrew continue the tradition today.
Nearby is the Pfeiffer Winery. Family owned and operated, the historic winery cellars and century old Sunday Creek bridge are situated in an idyllic setting on the banks of Sunday Creek, an anabranch of the Murray River. Sitting on the bridge enjoying a crisp white, full bodied red or a luscious fortified, the hours can so easily pass. The final winery to be visited would be Stanton & Killeen. Traditionally known as a producer of some of Australia's best Vintage Port, Muscats and Tokays their smooth, rich and lingering red wines are amongst some of the district's finest.. Shiraz vines from 1921 are still producing quality fruit for the Vintage Port and Jacks Block Shiraz. Overnight accommodation at the charming Carlyle House Bed & Breakfast is a treat. While centrally located and an easy stroll to the main street, it's set back far enough from the through traffic. There's no shortage of dining options with The Tuileries and Beaumont's Cafe the standouts.
Morris Wines, established in 1859, is the continuing story of five generations of family winemakers. Established in 1859 they were by 1885 the largest wine producer in the southern hemisphere. Today, with David Morris at the helm, they are one of the most highly awarded wineries in the country for their table, fortified and sparkling wines. It's a short drive across to the Mt Prior Winery which is set on 435 acres, 120 of which are planted to vines. Another one of the 19th century vineyards, the early days were very successful although fire and the outbreak of phylloxera in the district thwarted plans in the early part of the 20th century. Having changed hands many times, its acquisition in 1988 by local grazier Jim Sawyer has ushered in a period of stability. The Durif, Sparkling Shiraz Durif and fortifieds are the highlight wines here. A stunning feature of the property is the House at Mt Prior (circa 1880) that sits on the high point of the property and commands superb vineyard views.
On the return to Melbourne, the Buller Calliope Vineyard and Winery is well worth visiting. Established in 1921, they're famous for producing delicious fortified wines and gutsy, full-bodied reds. The backbone of the vineyard is Shiraz. These old vines are not irrigated so yields are low which means that although the quantities are small, the fruit produces intense flavours that winemaker Andrew Buller is able to craft into wines that have depth and elegance.
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