Discover Victoria’s Hidden Gem: The Moorabool Valley Wine Region

A burgeoning food and wine region in a pocket of Victoria many people have probably never heard of is the state’s newest tourist trail.

Word by Kirstie Bedford

The Moorabool Valley, tucked away north-west of Geelong, is one of Australia’s finest cool climate wine regions and has been creating quality wines for decades but has never had the quantity of both food and wine producers to justify its own trail – until now.

Tourism Great Geelong and The Bellarine says the new Moorabool Valley Taste Trail will help cement this flourishing region firmly in the minds of gastronomic visitors.

The trail features many of the region’s boutique winemakers, who say the authenticity of the producers and winemakers in the region – who came here because of the quality of the soil, not a pre-established tourist market – will be a key differentiator to others.

Moorabool Valley launch party at Clyde Park

It means when you visit the area, you’ll be able to personally meet the owners of the wineries who will happily talk you through why this region is punching well above its weight and producing wines that are winning accolades both here and internationally.

Among those are former PHD scientists, Ray Nadeson and Maree Collis, from Lethbridge Wines, voted as Geelong’s Best Small Cellar Door by Gourmet Traveller Wine and gold winners at the Sommelier Wine Awards in London. They produce the signature wines the region is renowned for, pinot noir and chardonnay, and also a blueprint series of Italian varieties that you can taste in the purpose-built strawbale winery.

Ray and Maree, owners of Lethbridge Wines

Maree says their success has been due to a philosophy of maintaining the quality of the soil.

“The idea of sustainability was evident to us from the beginning, and so we’ve always applied biodynamic principles. From our point of view, it’s about looking after the environment, because that way we can make better wine.”

Just down the road in Bannockburn is Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro, which sits at the top of a hill with stunning views across the vines and rolling hills beyond.

Stunning views over Clyde Park

One of the earlier vineyards in the region, Clyde Park was planted in 1979 and now has 40 acres of vines. Run by Terry Jongebloed and wife, Sue Dixon, they too are focused on sustainable practices, such as using solar panels in the winery, farming free-range chickens whose eggs they use in the restaurant, and cultivating their own organic compost, which goes on the vines.

Inside Clyde Park’s new cellar door

A stone’s throw away, Scott Austin and wife Belinda, are the second generation of Austins & Co., and while the third generation are too young to do much more than stomp on grapes, Scott and wife Belinda hope their young children will one day get involved.

Here it’s not only a winery experience, with a 150-acre vineyard and a pop-up cellar door, but you’ll also get a farm experience with sheep roaming freely. Scott also has plans to convert the wool shed into a cellar door later this year.

The farm experience at Austins & Co.

He says that while the new trail is a great way to educate people about their story and build brand awareness, it’s also much more.

“People are out here because they love the lifestyle and what they produce, so it’s as much about giving back to the community as it is about building a sustainable business you can pass down to future generations.”

Scott Austin and his son Spencer

His parents are still heavily involved in the property, with his father running the farm and his mother ensuring they remain top of mind in high-end restaurants.

 

Further north in Anakie is the 45-acre vineyard Del Rios, where vines were planted on the western slopes of the ancient volcano Mount Anakie, and you can taste tapas homemade by the Spanish owners. Here everything is done in-house, from the estate grown grapes, which are handpicked and hand-pruned, to the bottling and labelling.

Heading back towards town, just out of the city of Geelong, is Provenance Wines, located on the banks of the Barwon River at the historic bluestone Barwon Paper Mill.

Built in the 1870s, the mill is an emerging wine, food and arts precinct, and Provenance will be centre stage when it opens later this year. While you can’t walk amongst the vines, there’s a chance to experience a brand new concept for Geelong – an urban winery, where you can see the end of the winemaking process and take in a bit of art at the local galleries while you’re there.

LETHBRIDGE WINES
Open: Monday-Friday 11am-3pm
Weekends 11am-5.30pm
Address: 74 Burrows Road, Lethbridge
Tel: 03 5281 7279
www.lethbridgewines.com

CLYDE PARK VINEYARD AND BISTRO
Open: Cellar door, Monday-Sunday 11am-4.30pm
Bistro, Monday-Friday 10.30am-3pm
Saturday 11am-3pm
Sunday 11am-5pm
Address: 2490 Midland Hwy, Bannockburn
Tel: 03 5281 7274
www.clydepark.com.au

AUSTINS & CO
Open: By appointment
Address: 870 Steiglitz Road, Sutherlands Creek
Tel: 03 5281 1799
www.austinswines.com.au

DEL RIOS
Open: Cellar door, Weekends 11am-5pm
Restaurant, Weekends 12pm-4pm
Address: 2290 Ballan Rd, Anakie
Tel: 03 5284 1221
www.delrios.com.au

PROVENANCE WINES
Open: By appointment
Address: 100 Lower Paper Mills Road, Fyansford
Tel: 03 5222 3422
www.provenancewines.com.au

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