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German monk Martin Luther said, ‘Beer is made by men, wine by God,’ and in Australia‘s Victoria state one stands on holy ground. With more than 800 wineries and over 600 cellar doors across 21 regions, Victorians are spoiled for choice when it comes to vino. Victoria’s viticulture can be traced to the mid-nineteenth century when Swiss settlers began planting grapes and, since then, winemakers have fostered a bouquet of styles including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Shiraz. We’ve popped the cork on the main wine regions in Victoria and encourage you to raise a glass to your favourite homegrown vintage.
The history of Victoria’s wine industry can be traced to a vineyard at Yering Station in the Yarra Valley dating back to 1838. Today the Yarra Valley is home to 300 vineyards and 160 wineries, including Fergusson Winery and Restaurant, TarraWarra Estate, Sutherland Estate, Oakridge Wines and De Bortoli Wines. The moderate climate and balance between granite and limestone soils on the valley floor and red soil in the Upper Yarra area lend themselves to the region’s signature Chardonnay, Shiraz and Pinot Noir trends.
The maritime climate and diverse soils – such as sandy loam, river loam, basalt plains and volcanic soils – have attracted vignerons to Geelong and the Bellarine region since the 1800s. Swiss settlers began planting in 1842 and rapidly cultivated the area turning it into one of the largest grape-growing regions in Victoria. Since the 1966 resurgence of the region, more than 60 vineyards have sprouted in the area including Jack Rabbit Vineyard, Oakdene Vineyards Winery, Banks Road Vineyard and Leura Park Estate. Regularly featuring on James Halliday‘s ‘best of the best’ list, the region is best known for its Chardonnay and Shiraz.
Only ten minutes from Melbourne airport is one of Victoria’s oldest wine regions – Sunbury. Dating back to the 1860s, this region is characterized by its dry climate and volcanic soil which produces elegant Shiraz and fruity varieties. The finest wineries in Sunbury include Craiglee, which was established in the 1860s and replanted in 1976, Goona Warra – meaning ‘resting place of black swan’ – was established in 1863, and Galli Estate was founded by Tuscan migrant Lorenzo Galli. If you’re searching for an award winner, head to Witchmount, whose 2004 Estate Shiraz was named the top Shiraz in the world.
With an altitude of 350 metres to 700 meters above sea level, the Macedon Ranges wine region is ‘the coolest grape-growing climate of any wine region on the mainland,’ meaning that only a limited amount of wine is produced. These conditions are ideal for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, which are typically characterised by their acidity and bold fruit notes. However, when visiting this region, we recommend ‘Macedon,’ a label given to describe native sparkling wine. Wineries in this area include Curly Flat, Hanging Rock Winery, Gisborne Peak and Granite Hills.
Visions of summer holidays and miles of surf coast come to mind when one mentions the Mornington Peninsula, but the area is also packed with more than 50 cellar doors. Hinterland villages including Red Hill, Main Ridge, Moorooduc, Merricks, Balnarring and Dromana are renowned for their Pinot Noir and sub-regional varieties of Pinot Grigio and Pinot Gris. We recommend visiting Montalto Vineyard, Tucks Ridge and Red Hill Estate, which are all within walking distance of each other and offer dining options.