Scale the sandstone heights of the Grampians for incredible views, or scour the bushlands below to discover the many hidden wonders throughout this Victorian wine region.
It’s a land of many talents, combing rugged mountains, waterfalls and a wine region steeped in history. The landscape itself hints at the resistant nature of the vines, and varietals grown here include its signature shiraz, pinot noir and sparkling wines. It might be a three-hour drive from Melbourne, but the competitive selection of award-winning wines is reason enough to hit the highway to encounter one of Victoria’s favourite, not-so-secret destinations.
Navigate every compass point of the Grampians: the north encompasses incredible scenery and nature reserves; the east leads travellers back in time to the gold-rush era of Ararat; you’ll find plenty of art and culture when heading southbound; and the west is famed for rock-climbing opportunities as well as dining experiences. It’s best to pack your trekking shoes and a camera, as the bushwalks and views will call to you in between the wines.
James Halliday on the Grampians
This is quintessential Australian bush country, much of its slopes still covered with stringybark eucalypts, grudgingly yielding up grazing land in the flatter areas. The vineyards of today are widely dispersed, often not visible from the highway. Growth in the number of vineyards has been muted, but the region has a rich history.
Gold fever reached its 19th-century peak in central-west Victoria: the towns of Ballarat, Beechworth and Bendigo are all testaments to the extraordinary changes it wrought on the fabric, not just of Victoria but of Australian society. But nowhere is its legacy for the wine industry more evident than in the vast underground tunnels (or drives) at what is now Seppelt Great Western.
Grampians (formerly known as Great Western, which may become a sub-region) is also unique in that it is the only district in Australia to have directly and significantly benefited from French winemaking experience: Trouette, Blampied, Pierlot in the 19th century, Landragin in the late 20th century. Pierlot played a key role in establishing the reputation of the district as a sparkling wine producer and (after a 70-year hiatus) Dominique Landragin continued that role for a time during stints both with Seppelt and thereafter Yellowglen.
Simply because Great Western is the best-known sparkling wine brand in Australia, and because of the historic Seppelt winery and cellars, the assumption is that it is indeed still a major producer. The reality is that only a tiny percentage of the grapes used in the Seppelt sparkling wines are grown in the region. As with the Pyrenees, this is a red wine region first and foremost.
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Mid March to mid May
MARGARET RIVER wines to try
White | 2017
Mount Langi Ghiran Vineyards Cliff Edge Grampians RieslingMount Langi Ghiran Vineyards
White | 2018
Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard RieslingSeppelt
Red | 2017
Seppelt Drumborg Vineyard Henty Pinot NoirSeppelt
Red | 2017
Montara Hill Block Single Vineyard Grampians Pinot NoirMontara