- Straddling the peak of the Great Dividing Range is Australia’s eastern mountain spine, also known as Victoria’s High Country. The High Country’s rich history began in the gold rush, but it wasn’t long before local farmers recognised the viticultural potential of the land as one of the most diverse and exciting in Australia. Home to six renowned subregions that produce everything from cool-climate Prosecco, to warm-climate reds and fortified wine, the region has immersive wine experiences that appeal in any season. Get to know the distinctive territories of Victoria’s High Country and their unique stories.
King Valley’s wine industry is defined by a prominent European influence. Affectionately known as the ‘Little Italy’ of regional Victoria, the area has long been home to Italian migrants who brought with them wine styles from the motherland. Styles like pinot grigio and sangiovese quickly became popular, as did Australia’s first-ever sparkling Prosecco. These days, Prosecco is synonymous with King Valley; a trip down the Prosecco Road’s cellar doors will ensure a full Italian gastronomic adventure. Take part in the King Valley Sangiovese Discovery and uncover the science behind growing this beloved Italian variety. The experience includes luxury transport to wine tastings, vineyard visits, lunch and a private winemaking tour.
Head to Rutherglen for a taste of liquid history. As one of the first wine regions to be established in the High Country during Australia’s Gold Rush in the 1850s, Rutherglen is home to sixth-generation winemakers. The region became known as the capital of fortified wine in Australia, but also produces some excellent full-bodied reds, thanks to warm summer days and the acid-retention that comes from cool nights. Visit the iconic All Saints Estate winery, rated five stars by Halliday Wine Companion for their outstanding fortified wines. For some extra grandeur, be sure to book in for the Luxury Immersion – inclusive of two nights stay at the historic Mt Ophir Estate tower, fine-dining lunch and dinner and “Winemaker for a Day” experience.
Precious metals were first discovered in Beechworth in 1852, so it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say the town was built with gold. Heritage streetscapes, a boutique shopping district and a thriving food and wine scene make Beechworth a must-visit destination in the High Country. When it comes to wine, Beechworth producers favour quality over quantity, choosing to focus almost solely on chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir – resulting in regional excellence across these varieties. Book a private tour at Baarmutha Wines for a complete journey from vine to glass, and pick winemaker Vinny Webb’s brain about all things wine at a private tasting.
The Glenrowan region is intertwined in Australian folklore for bringing the Ned Kelly Gang to their knees, but its viticultural history runs deep, too. In 1866, Varley Bailey planted the first vines in the region and by 1870 had produced the first Baileys vintage. The winery, now one of the oldest in the High Country, produces the luscious fortified wines and bold, rich reds that are typical of Glenrowan viniculture. Much like its larger neighbour, Rutherglen, Glenrowan’s climate allows for the ripening of late-maturing red wine varieties and produces some excellent shiraz. Visit the five-star rated and historic Baileys cellar door to try their exceptional muscat and topaque in the original 1870s winery.
At the gateway to the Victorian High Country is stunning Upper Goulburn, one of the coldest wine-growing climates in the state. On the north side of the Great Dividing Range, the snow-clad landscape cultivates hardy, cool-climate vines that produce peppy, textural and aromatic varieties, such as chardonnay, riesling and sauvignon blanc. Upper Goulburn offers a diverse and spectacular landscape of dense forests, vineyards and views of the Australian Alps. Visit the Delatite cellar door for views over Mount Buller for a taste of the region’s award-winning cool-climate wines.
Nestled in the foothills of the Victoria Alps are the Alpine Valleys, consisting of four basins created by the Ovens, Buffalo, Buckland and Kiewa rivers. The region is a popular winter destination thanks to its array of prized cellar doors and gourmet dining options, all in close proximity to the ski resorts of Mt Hotham, Mt Buffalo and Falls Creek. Unsurprisingly, the region excels in cool-climate wines. Traditional varieties such as chardonnay, shiraz and cabernet sauvignon thrive, as do alternate and lesser-known European ones like fiano, tempranillo and saperavi. For a comprehensive exploration, the Best of Alpine Valleys Escape offers a package of luxury wine and food experiences in the region. Enjoy private tastings, curated wine selections, local producer hampers, included accommodation and more.
Pictured: the King Valley Sangiovese Discovery
Key varietals: merlot, pinot gris/grigio, Prosecco, sangiovese.
Key varietals: durif, shiraz, muscat and topaque.
Pictured: the vineyards of Rutherglen.
Key varietals: chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir.
Key varietals: shiraz, muscat, topaque
Pictured: Victoria's High Country.
Key varietals: riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc
Key varietals: cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, merlot and tempranillo
Find out more about Victoria's High Country.
*This article was produced by Halliday Wine Companion in partnership with Tourism North East.