Five Gippsland wineries to discover

By Halliday Promotion

19 Jun, 2024

Gippsland is characterised by lush pastures and sweeping hills, with vineyards dotted throughout. Discover the region and its wines through these five producers. 

Visitors to the Gippsland region are spoilt for choice, with a plethora of fine dining options, natural attractions and, of course, stellar wineries to visit. The region’s vast expanse stretches from Melbourne’s eastern outskirts and across the state, bordering with New South Wales and into Victoria’s far east, resulting in a rich diversity of climate and soil. 

In the east and west, with its slightly warmer climate and low rainfall, you'll find well-balanced, fruit-forward cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir. Meanwhile, chardonnay fans will love the range of cool-climate styles available in South Gippsland, influenced by nearby Bass Strait. 

On your next visit, make sure you stop by Bass Phillip, Cannibal Creek Vineyard, Gippsland Wine Company, Harman Wines and Narkoojee Wines. And if you can't make the trip, get a taste of Gippsland by trying each producer's recommended wine below. 

Bass Phillip

Bass Phillip wines on table

Winemaker Jean-Marie Fourrier says: The story of Bass Phillip starts back in the early 1970s when the first vineyard site, located 15kms south of Leongatha, was selected based on climatic and topographical observations, producing the perfect conditions for long, slow ripening of grapes. Our other 7.5ha vineyard was planted in 1998, all on a north-facing slope in Leongatha's hinterland. Our wines reflect our vines and their terroir, which is enhanced by our close planted, low cropping, old vines with only the use of natural processes and sprays, no irrigation and meticulous canopy management, culminating in wines of depth, length and complexity.

H. What do you love about making wine in Gippsland?
JF. The soils of Gippsland are pretty special. They're made from dark grey silty clay or sandy loams, and they bring the unique signature for Bass Phillip wines. The climate is also appropriate for our chardonnay and pinot noir wines, with an average of 860mm of rain per year (900mm in Burgundy), and an average temperature of 14 degrees per year in Gippsland (12 degrees in Burgundy). This allows us to dry farm, which means no irrigation.  

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
JF. We try to limit the human influence as much as possible to reflect the identity of where the wines come from. There are no real techniques but a strong desire to understand the environment where the vines are growing to naturally achieve a wine with a good phenolic maturity with the right texture of tannins and aromatics. I like to say, the more you are a biologist the less you need to be an oenologist. 

Wine to try

Bass Phillip bottleshot

2022 Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir

Glacé cherries and savoury, dusty notes greet the nose initially, showing hints of vanilla and spice that are refined and poised at this stage but, rest assured, complexity will crescendo with time. The palate is svelte and satiny, lovely balance, resolved and complete with length that will only get better with age. 

Best enjoyed: If drunk young we recommend decanting for an hour or so. 

Favourite local spot: A bit out of the way (over an hour's drive from Bass Phillip and not technically local), but I really like 10 Minutes by Tractor in the Mornington Peninsula. They have a beautiful property and their wines are lovely.

RRP $263 | Drink to 2040 | | Shop this wine

Cannibal Creek Vineyard

Man in Cannibal Creek vineyard

Winemakers and owners Pat and Kirsten Hardiker say: Our story starts back in 1997 when we planted 4ha of chardonnay and pinot noir vines. Our estate range now includes sparkling blanc de blancs, a fumé style sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, reserve chardonnay, rosé, pinot noir, reserve pinot noir, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and a vin de liqueur. Family owned and operated in the West Gippsland region, we are located one hour from Melbourne in Tynong North. The area is renowned for its dairy and fresh produce, and more recently its Burgundian style, fine table wines. 

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door?
PH & KH. Our restaurant and cellar door offer the perfect place to enjoy fine food and wine. Our restaurant endeavours to spotlight the local produce in Gippsland, including cheeses such as Berrys Creek artisan cheese and the delicious Tarago range, and the sharing style menu is suited for big and small groups. Children are welcome and we are dog friendly. For those seeking an intimate tasting experience, our curated 'Wine Experience' features winemaker notes and eight of our estate wines paired with bite-sized gourmet food. Alternatively, you can explore our separate cellar door located downstairs. We are open from 11am to 5pm on Fridays through to Sundays.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
PH & KH. What sets us apart in our approach to winemaking is the attention we pay to the soils and management of the canopy. For the last 10 years we have been working to understand the microbiology of the soil and how this can impact the quality and health of the vines and fruit. More balanced fruit means less intervention in the winery, creating elegant, low sulphur and vegan-friendly wines with great personality.

Wine to try

Cannibal Creek bottleshot

2023 Cannibal Creek Reserve Pinot Noir

Subtle black cherry and cinnamon on the nose. Hints of cured beef with chewy tannins lingering on the palate. 

Best enjoyed: Serve at room temperature, in a Burgundy glass. Pairs perfectly with scotch fillet with black garlic pumpkin purée and salsa verde.

Favourite local spot: Only five minutes from our restaurant and cellar door is Cannibal Hill, which is a great walking track to explore before or after visiting us. 

RRP $78 | Drink to 2034+ | | Shop this wine

Gippsland Wine Company

Gippsland Wine Company vineyard

CEO Mark Heath says: Gippsland Wine Company was established in 2010 with the purchase of the Loch Vineyard in South Gippsland. Progression has seen a further four vineyards added to the company, with primary focus on cool-climate varieties suited to the area. Each vintage brings different ripening, flavours, and choices of what style we will make, and our focus is the expression of the vineyard. 

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door?
MH. Our cellar door, nestled within the vineyard, has a range of local cheese, charcuterie and freshly baked sourdough for you to enjoy alongside our wine. The traditional varietal flight is always on offer, but currently, we are also offering a limited museum flight of 2017 Chardonnay, 2018 Pinot Noir and 2019 Blanc De Noir. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
MH. Our approach very much depends on the fruit. Do we pick pinot noir early for sparkling, leave it a little later for rosé, or fully ripen to make our traditional pinot noir? The South Gippsland climate has the ability to offer all these options.

Wine to try

Gippsland Wine Company bottleshot

2019 Gippsland Wine Company Blanc de Noir Zero Dosage

Pale straw colour, with hints of pink or salmon hues. Subtle floral quality, showing toasty aromas with strawberry and raspberry notes. Vibrant, citrus on the palate with a touch of minerality and finishing bone dry. 

Best enjoyed: This is a celebratory wine. It's versatile and pairs well with soft cheeses, charcuterie, sushi, sashimi or seafood-based Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. Serve chilled in your favourite sparkling glass. 

Favourite local spot: Our favourite getaway is Venus Bay. The coastline is 24kms abutting the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park. Some days we see nobody, with the odd winter sighting of whales from the lighthouse lookout.

RRP $60 | Drink to 2030 | | Shop this wine

Harman Wines

Harman hero

Head winemaker David Harman says: Our dream set sail in 2004 when my wife, Nicole, and I purchased our 10-acre property in Gippsland. From this empty paddock, we began establishing vineyards and building our winery, cellar door and restaurant. Ten years later, in 2014, we excitedly opened our cellar door, and Harman Wines officially began. Today we are a premier wine tourism destination and business on the Bass Coast, with our venue attracting over 35,000 visitors a year. It is a place created by passion and love, where friends and family can come to “meet, eat and drink” in our tranquil surroundings and enjoy the best of our region. Our premium cool-climate wines are picked, processed and handmade on site using sustainable practices. 

H. What can guests expect from a visit to your cellar door?
DH. Open for lunch, dinner, wine tastings and sales, Friday to Sunday throughout the year, and daily in January, visitors can enjoy our delicious food and wines, with multiple dining area options available that all embrace the views that our little slice of paradise provides. Premium cool-climate wines grown and produced on site are available for visitors to enjoy drinking, tasting via a self-guided wine paddle, or take away, with varieties including chardonnay, pinot gris, sauvignon blanc, sparkling wine, rosé, pinot noir, and syrah. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
DH. As much as I love planning, this job always loves to throw a curveball to keep you on your toes. You need to adapt and evolve as the business grows and consumer preferences change. Being a small producer I have the luxury of always being able to play with batches of grapes from different vineyards. I don’t follow any specific process or defined methodology but rather taste the grapes as they come in and try to work out how to best represent them in a bottle.

Wine to try 

Harman bottleshot

2022 Harman Wines 612 Estate Pinot Noir

Beautiful grapes from our 612 Estate vineyard make this delicious, fruity and earthy pinot noir. Medium-bodied on the palate, with wild berry, raspberry, and oak flavours. Rich burgundy-coloured tones. Wild fermented to add some extra spunk to this wine. Hand-plunged four times a day until pressed and matured in French oak barrique barrels.  

Best enjoyed: I love nothing more than sitting around a fire overlooking the vineyard with friends sharing this bottle of pinot noir with a delicious butterflied lamb, roast duck, tasty brie or goat's cheese. Serve at 14 degrees in a Burgundy wine glass. 

Favourite local spot: The Bunurong Coastal Drive is a must for any visitor to our region. The scenic coastal road from Inverloch through to Cape Paterson takes in the must visit places including the Inverloch Surf Beach, Eagles Nest, The Caves, Twin Reefs, The Oaks and Shack Bay, for some stunning beaches, hidden gems, and panoramic views. We have highlighted some of these local tourist destinations on our menu, with many wood-fired pizzas being named after these places. 

RRP $48 | Drink to 2028 | | Shop this wine

Narkoojee Wines

Narkoojee cellar door

Winemaker and viticulturist Axel Friend says: Narkoojee is a Halliday Wine Companion Top 5 Star Winery that began in 1980 with a pilot planting of a half acre of chardonnay, merlot and cabernet vines on Harry Friend’s parent’s dairy farm. The vineyard has now grown to about 34 acres of vines. After about 10 years operating out of garages and backyards in Melbourne and Glengarry, we finally built our winery at the vineyard in 2004 and added a restaurant in 2013. Being located in an area classified as cool, we specialise in the production of wines showing typical cool-climate characteristics: chardonnays of elegance and intensity with great length, acidity and structure; shiraz wines showing peppery characters, blackberry fruit and crimson-tinted colours. 

H. What do you love about making wine in Gippsland?
AF. Producing wine in Gippsland is more rewarding than in many other regions. Our particular site is not as cool as in the south, not as wet as in the west and not as humid as in the east. One large benefit of this is that disease pressure is reduced, and the climate is perfect for the production of great pinot noirs, chardonnays and shiraz. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
AF. During my winemaking course at university, our viticultural lecturer told us he was giving a course on winemaking. I was startled at first but he soon made us aware that the making of good wine starts with the growing of high quality fruit; wine is made in the vineyard he said. To this day his words ring true. I have always let the vines ‘do the talking’, the wine style developing naturally from the fruit picked at optimum maturity, with minimal adjustment required in the winery.     

Wine to try 

Narkoojee bottleshot

Narkoojee Reserve Pinot Noir

The excellent 2021 season produced slowly ripened fruit with vibrant colours and heightened varietal flavours, accompanied by excellent natural acidity. On the nose, black cherry and raspberry notes with violets, truffles and dried herbs. On the palate, black cherry and raspberry with mushroom, a touch of earth and forest floor and integrated, spicy French oak. Intense and complex, showing perfect balance and a long, harmonious finish. 

Best enjoyed: The forest floor and truffle flavours make it an ideal match for gamey foods such as venison sausages, rabbit, duck and perhaps a mushroom risotto. A cheddar style cheese is an excellent match as is Atlantic salmon and tuna. Serve at 15–18 degrees in a glass with a larger bowl and smaller opening to capture the more delicate floral and fruit flavours in the wine. 

Favourite local spot: One particular spot we love to visit is Tarra Valley in the Tarra Bolga National Park. Excellent, unobtrusive picnic facilities are provided for the visitor who can follow one of a number of walking tracks that meander through magnificent tree fern, towering Mountain Ash and across small streams. Along these walks there is always the possibility of spotting a magnificent lyre bird. 

RRP $46 | Drink to 2030 | | Shop this wine