Victoria's High Country extends across the Great Dividing Range. Explore its many subregions and visit its historical towns of Glenrowan, Rutherglen, Beechworth, Alpine Valleys, Upper Goulburn and the King Valley.
Each subregion is dotted with wineries. On your trip to the High Country, be sure to visit Baileys of Glenrowan, Michelini in the Alpine Valleys, Rutherglen's Buller Wines and Morris, and Beechworth's Savaterre and Sentiō.
Sentiō is located close to town in Beechworth. Guests are invited to enjoy a private tasting, by appointment, with winemaker Chris Catlow in the Sentiō cellar. Hear about Beechworth's rich history while comparing current wines with back vintages and taste what the region has to offer.
Chris, who was born and raised in Beechworth, says the philosophy behind Sentiō wines is always evolving. And he's always challenging himself to be open and intuitive to what the wines are showing. "I try my best to reflect the places the wines are from. They’re modern versions of what the region showcases. Beechworth is a very unique place, with the ability to create benchmark wines for so many varieties. Anyone who loves high quality wines with a great story should have this region high on their list!"
If you're new to Sentiō, Chris says he finds it hard to go past chardonnay in Beechworth, so his 2019 Beechworth Chardonnay is a perfect introduction. "So many beautiful versions are created across the diverse climate that is the region. Power with finesse is the common link. The winemaking community is a group of humble and thoughtful people who are always willing to learn from and help each other. It’s a pleasure to be among such an open minded group of brilliant producers."
Local favourite spot: The Beechworth Gorge is the best kept secret in Australia (just don't tell anyone how to find it!).
Find out more | 7 Boiler House Lane, Beechworth | 0433 773 229
Located in Beechworth, Savaterre winery is built into the side of a huge granite hill with a magnificent view of the Victorian countryside. As a smaller winery, visitation is by appointment only. Winemaker and co-owner Keppell Smith says the winery is in the process of expansion. The team are currently working on designing and building a unique cellar door, boasting views of the snow-covered Victorian Alps.
"Our wines are a reflection of place. Fermented and aged in an ancient, unhurried European manner to maximise aroma, texture, intensity and length. Our whites are aged in our cool cellars for two years before release. And we age our reds for four years."
Keppell says for those who haven't tried Savaterre, the 2018 Savaterre Pinot Noir and 2018 Syrah are the right place the start – especially as the temperature continues to drop. "These wines are perfect for those autumnal celebrations, and they're just being released. Please decant them a few hours before enjoying."
Local favourite spot: Keppell says the region is blessed with great produce and places to enjoy it. His must-visit spots include two-hatted restaurant Provenance, The Empire Hotel, The Ox, Tanswells Pub, Project 49, The Cellar Door Wine Store and Bridge Road Brewers.
Find out more | 29 Beechworth Wangaratta Road, Everton Upper | 0418 451 499
The historic Morris of Rutherglen winery is located down a long driveway flanked by vineyards. A small family-run winery, Morris is world-renowned for its fortified wines, which can be tasted throughout the four classifications of muscat in the Fortified Tasting Flight at the cellar door.
Winemaker David Morris says Rutherglen’s climatic conditions give a specific character to each wine. If you're new to fortified wines, the Old Premium Rare Topaque is a great place to start. "It's one of our most awarded fortified wines and once you taste it, you will understand why. Only the most exceptional vintages are blended for this strictly limited release. With aromas of toffee, malt and butterscotch and smooth silky texture the Old Premium Rare Topaque is a true benchmark."
While visiting the Morris of Rutherglen cellar door, you can taste the brand’s new venture into Australian single malt whisky. The award-winning Signature 40% ABV and Muscat Barrel 46% ABV whiskies are on show, accompanied by Morris Cellar Reserve Grand Muscat and Morris Old Premium Rare Muscat. During the tasting, guests will learn about the Morris family’s longstanding winemaking history and how the site has evolved to produce whisky using the original hybrid copper-pot still installed in the 1940s.
Local favourite spot: David says be sure to check out the Yeddonba Aboriginal Cultural Site – located at the base of Mount Pilot – the spiritual and ceremonial site of the Duduora, Quat Quata and Minjambutta clans.
Find out more | 154 Mia Mia Road, Rutherglen | (02) 6026 7303
The Michelini cellar door is a Tuscan-inspired setting. Warm, rustic and welcoming, Michelini is nestled among the rolling hills in Myrtleford (just 25 minutes from Bright). Enjoy a tasting inside the villa, or dine alfresco out among the vines. Sample Michelini's Italian varietals as you snack on antipasto platters. And to finish? A coffee of course.
The winery's vineyards are located in the Buckland Valley, a cool-climate site mirroring the Michelini family alpine home in Northeast Italy. Winemaker Matt Kilby says the varieties grown originate in Northern Italy. "The combination of a fertile site and a long ripening season give us the perfect conditions to produce wines that are faithful to the traditional style."
Specialising in Italian varietals, Matt says for the adventurous drinkers the marzemino and teroldego styles are a must-try. "Both hailing from the Trentino region, these wines are rarely grown in Australia and were pioneered by the Michelini family."
Matt says the region is brimming with natural beauty – snowcapped peaks, flowing rivers and dense beautiful forests – and has a rich, cultural heritage and a vibrant culinary scene.
Local favourite spot: Matt says he loves to sit down for a beautiful woodfired pizza at Bastoni Pizza, and Reclaim is a favourite spot to enjoy breakfast. In summer take a grazing box and a bottle of fizz down to Lake Buffalo for a picnic.
Find out more | 213 Great Alpine Road, Myrtleford | (03) 5751 1990
Turning 101 this year, Buller Wines is one of Rutherglen's most loved wineries. Take in the century-long history as you visit the rustic cellar door and taste their world-renowned fortified wine, crisp whites, and rich reds. Prosecco fans can sip fizz at the dedicated bar, or out on the lawn. Guests can also enjoy a cheese platter, or book into the Pavilion restaurant for a long lunch. For those looking to taste the iconic Rutherglen fortified wines, book into a Muscat Mile tasting experience where you can taste four barrel-aged wines spanning four, 10, 25 and 50 years old.
Buller Wines' ethos is blending tradition with innovation across the ranges. The flagship 1928 Block Shiraz comes from vines planted in the same year. The Nook range is approachable and fruit-driven, and made with grapes sourced from vineyards throughout Victoria.
Winemaker Dave Whyte says the perfect introductory wine is the Buller Single-Vineyard King Valley Calliope Chardonnay. "It's sourced from the best grapes in the King Valley and fermented in oak. It’s crisp, yet rich. For the lighter red lover, our Nook Pinot Noir is rich and textural. And our most amazing wine would be from the Rare Fortified range, up to 60 years old, these wines truly are a luxury.
David says Rutherglen is quickly becoming an iconic foodie destination. "We love seeing the development of our main street become a real hub and there are some sublime eateries opening up."Find out more | 2804 Federation Way, Rutherglen | (02) 6032 9660
Baileys of Glenrowan
Dating back to the 1870s, Baileys of Glenrowan is a Victorian winery rich in family history. Take in views of the rolling vineyards, from the cellar door that exudes Old World charm. With 143 hectares of vineyards, the total area is home to 10 varietals, some vines are up to 100 years old. Baileys of Glenrowan is a certified organic winery, offering guests tastings of the full range of wines.
Learn about the history and heritage while you taste the cellar door exclusive Baileys Rare Muscat and Topaque, along with Baileys organic and the luscious fortified wines. Groups of between six and 12 people can book at private tasting in the Spirit Bond room. Visit the Bundarra Organic Kitchen, centred around the famous woodfired pizza oven and the freshest ingredients. Take a self-guided tour around the original 1870 winery, and visit the Clydesdale stables, Blacksmith's forge and the native gardens.
Winemaker Paul Dahlenburg says the anyone new to Baileys of Glenrowan should start with the 1920s Block Shiraz. "This dry land block recently turned 100 and really showcases the Baileys wine style that people have come to love. It’s handpicked, open fermented, plunged by hand and basket pressed with a historic Victor Coq press. Grown and made organically just as it would have been by the early Baileys family, it gives a glimpse of days gone by with our current interpretation while retaining the hallmark Baileys typicity." He says being an organic winery means the team is able to make wines that express the site and season in which they were grown – wines with a sense of place.
Local favourite spot: The Ned Kelly Museum, Morgan’s Lookout on Mt Glenrowan for spectacular views of the Ovens, King Valleys and the Victorian Alps.
Find out more | 779 Timinick Road, Glenrowan | (03) 5766 1600
Learn more about High Country in our essential guide.
This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with the featured wineries.
Top image credit: Savaterre