Victoria has over 850 wineries, in 21 separate wine making regions, with over 650 offering the cellar door wine tasting experience. The climate and topography in Victoria is diverse, enabling wine makers to grow a wide variety of grapes under different conditions and produce a huge range of wine styles.
The High Country Region is divided into 8 separate wine regions, all with their own unique styles. The Rutherglen area is renowned for its fortified wines, excellent reds, and crisp, light whites while the small vineyards in the Alpine Valley produce bold Chardonnays. The King Valley area has a local Italian community skilled in the Italian varietals including Prosecco, Sangiovese and Pinot Grigio. Many of the winemaking families in the area have been perfecting and handing down their winemaking skills for generations, and love to share their expertise and knowledge first hand at cellar door tastings. The Beechworth wine region produces excellent Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs and cool climate varieties and the Upper Goulburn area specialises in robust Chardonnays and crisp Rieslings. The Strathbogie Ranges wine region is known for its sparkling wines and delicate table wines and the Goulburn Valley Wine Region is a producer of buttery Chardonnays, while the well known Tahbilk winery has a range of wine varieties including marsanne, shiraz and rousanne. This area is also a prolific grower of stone fruits such as apples, pears and peaches. Like the Rutherglen wine region, the Glenrowan wine region is a producer of excellent fortified wines and full bodied Shiraz.
The best known of the High Country wineries is Brown Brothers who have been producing world class wines in the area since 1889. As in most wine making regions, gourmet food goes hand in hand with good wine, and the High Country is no exception. In addition to the wineries, the area also encompasses Victoria’s ski fields, overflowing with skiers in the winter months and visited by nature lovers in the warmer months.
The High Country also holds a number of annual festivals focussed on the enjoyment of quality local wines and produce. Rutherglen hosts the annual ‘Rutherglen Winery Walkabout’, held over the Queen’s Birthday long weekend. Twenty of the best local wineries get together to put on a festival to remember, with wine tasting, gourmet dinners, burgundy breakfasts and live music. There are also community events such as barrel racing, farmers markets and the infamous Rutherglen grape stomp. A Rutherglen Winery Walkabout Tasting Glass is your ticket to a weekend of wine tasting, entertainment and country fun and can be purchased from any of the participating wineries for $25. Tickets and shuttles can be pre booked online and accommodation needs to be booked well in advance for this popular event.
The King Valley’s annual La Dolce Vita spring festival held in November, welcomes spring with the diverse wines, Italian food, glorious scenery and family atmosphere of the King Valley’s Italian winemaking community. To participate in the festival, guests need to purchase a $15 souvenir glass from participating wineries. Expect to sample a huge range of delicious wine varieties including Italian, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese wine styles, gourmet homemade pasta, gnocchi and pizza and be entertained by live music.
For those looking for some extra action the range of local activities is extensive and includes bushwalking, horse riding, rock climbing, mountain biking and four wheel driving. The Mount Buller ski field is only a short drive away for skiing enthusiasts. Benalla, nestled on the banks of the picturesque Benalla Lake, lends itself well as a base for wine tasting and boasts an internationally recognised regional art gallery with a collection of historic and contemporary Australian art.
The High Country of Victoria is a wine lovers playground but is also so much more. Sample the local fare, take in the spectacular scenery and enjoy the exhilarating ski fields….. nature’s very own amusement parks!
Choice Hotels has several hotels in the wine making region.
Econo Lodge Motel Woongara – a 3.5 star hotel in Rutherglen
Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway – a 4.5 star Wangaratta hotel
Comfort Inn Benalla – a 3.5 star Benalla hotel
Comfort Resort Alzburg – Resort style Mansfield accommodation
Comfort Inn Trawool – Resort style Trawool Valley accommodation
Comfort Inn Coach & Bushmans – 3.5 star Seymour accommodation