Best boutique wineries
With hundreds of wineries out there some seem to get more than the lion share of visitors. Whether this is because people have seen or tried their wine at a bottle shop, they have a deserved reputation for being a great winery to visit or they are in a prime location for passing traffic. Some though like the thrill of wanting to get off the beaten track and discover that hidden gem, the lesser known or the cellar door that is tucked away on the back roads of any wine region across Australia. These are the wineries that are worth hunting down, have less crowds and that means you are more likely to get a personal experience and discover your next favourite wine.
In no particular order
Once Bress would have been on the main highway from Melbourne to Bendigo, but now with the bypass many would not know it exists. We love the cracking wines that come out of this winery. We love the winemaker for his passion and naughty schoolboy humour. We love the shared home-style food experience of local produce (Spring to Autumn) and of course we love their cider
This was a great discovery and is the perfect spot for small groups.
On top of the great wines, Harcourt Valley produce they also make an American Pale Ale and a very gingery ginger beer. At Harcourt Valley you have a great host, tick, a great selection of quality wine, tick the added bonus of a Pale Ale and ginger beer and on top of that a bocce court shaded by gum trees tick, tick.
More known for its accommodation and wedding and conference facilities this gem of a cellar door is definitely no after thought. Away from the main building nestled amongst the tall pines you will find a cellar door that serves quality wine and casual fare from a small but snappy menu.
The superb wines of Curly Flat should be more than enough to entice any wine lover for a visit with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris reigning supreme. But it was the way in which the wines were presented for tasting that made it a personal wine experience that will be remembered for a long time.
Wrought Iron sculptures greet you as you enter the tasting room, which is housed in a red brick barn built in the 1860’s. A modern country vibe with a separate gallery to one side and an adjoining cafe on the other. The cafe serves good coffee and a limited, but interesting menu to keep you going. When I talk about a winery cellar door that offers a good overall experience then this is it. Go taste some wine, visit the gallery, have a coffee and a quick bite to eat, all in the lovely surrounds of what is Jones winery cellar door.
Although only small it has a nice contemporary feel. At Scion country hospitality reigns supreme as we sat down to try some of the favourites of Rutherglen and some wines that had an interesting modern twist to them. We started with “The Fleur” which is a white wine made from Orange Muscat grapes with touches of floral and blossoms and when served chilled it makes for something quite unique. There are about 10 wines to sample and you will find some interesting takes on some old styles. Not interesting in a bad way but more like a top chef pushing the boundaries on some classic dishes and getting rave reviews.
Located not too far off the beaten track, Medhurst is perched on top of a hill surrounded by open fields and native bush. Nice small range of wines with wonderful Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Shiraz, Rosé and Chardonnay. The café serves high quality fare for breakfast and lunch. We had a fantastic BLT on sourdough with a herb mayo and a beautiful rocket, pumpkin fetta and praline salad on another occasion. The friendly staff make it a wonderful experience all round. Definitely worth a visit and a stop for lunch.
If you live in the Western suburbs of Melbourne and enjoy wine and have never been to Witchmount Estate then shame on you! A top notch cellar door so close to the city of Melbourne with its Shiraz winning world acclaim is perfect for a quick getaway. Great wines and passionate cellar door manager and an Italian restaurant make Witchmount Estate a standout in a wine region lesser known.
Though Soumah is only minutes away from the Maroondah Hwy turn off, you feel as though you are in an undiscovered part of the Yarra Valley. Soumah grabs its inspiration from Northern Italy and it’s easy to imagine the cellar door with its deep blue tiles as a modern Italian country cottage. The wine list is a mix of Italian wine styles as well as the Eastern French varieties. For something different try the Brachetto, an Italian grape variety made into a wicked luscious pink dessert wine. A small but well thought out menu of Italian peasant food is perfect and completes the picture.
The entry-level Sticks wines are not hard to find. A visit to this wonderful cellar door (that has a great feel and soul about it) will open your world up to a completely different side of Sticks and some excellent wine in their premium range that you may not have seen before. Inside the look was a modern with items of old that set the room off beautifully, such as the old timber boxes used as stools to huddle around the open fire crackling in the corner. Sticks makes a great place to visit in the warmer months and laze outside on the decking, equally so during the cooler months as we visited with an open fireplace and plenty of windows to bring the outside in while still keeping warm.
If you are looking for something different in the Barossa then this is your place. Apart from making excellent wine, Tscharke is venturing into more of the unusual grape varieties and doing it with great success. The cellar door has touches of a Danish house with all the blonde wood, exposed beams and flowers sitting in wooden pots underneath the shuttered windows. There are wines like Savagnin, Garnacha, Touriga, Graciano, Tempranillo and Montepulciano. Don’t be put off by these unusual names because Tscharke don’t make weird wine, they make great wine from weird sounding varieties. A visit to Tscharke will broaden your horizons and you will come away knowing a little more than when you first arrived.
Don’t scamper back to the car once you see the outside appearance of this cellar door and café as you approach. Inside is a modern oasis with comfy couches around a fireplace, interesting artwork on the walls and a really classy fit out that just begs you to come in and unwind. The café has a very appealing menu and kids are not forgotten either. Yabby Lake has an excellent number of wines to sample with several ranges including wines from their Heathcote vineyard. A spot of lunch, good wines, excellent staff with a smart interior, makes Yabby Lake a must see.
Surrounded by gardens of native grasses and trees, this smallish tasting room is greatly enhanced by the outdoor space where the garden encapsulates you into this outdoor room. The owners, a married couple, took us through their wonderful wines and it was funny listening to the banter they had between them, like any married couple. We ordered some wood fired pizzas and sat outside in the sun soaking up its warmth. A lovely spot that was really enjoyable. If there was ever a place to turn off the phone and forget about tweeting everyone then Stone Bridge’s outdoor eatery is it.
Though this cellar door is a smaller operation it is intimate with the classy wines, the educated staff and the personal service that really makes this place hum. Three ranges are produced, the Skuttlebutt, Stella Bella and Suckfizzle. The usual Margaret River varieties are found but there are a couple of different wines that are unusual for the region, like a really good Viognier, Tempranillo and a Sangiovese/Cabernet that marries the two grape varieties really well.
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Have we got it right? Is there a winery we missed that should be on our list?