A Sommelier's Guide to the North-East

North-East Victoria beckons adventurous wine lovers who seek to venture beyond Melbourne’s fringe. Located just a three-hour drive from Melbourne and including the north-western slopes of the Great Dividing Range and the southern banks of the mighty Murray River, this winemaking area offers an array of diverse tasting experiences. From Rutherglen's famed fortified Muscat wines to the cool-climate elegance of Beechworth and King Valley, this guide will help you navigate this captivating region. 

Notable Wine Regions to Explore 

The North-East Wine Zone officially includes Glenrowan, Beechworth, Rutherglen, Alpine Valleys, and King Valley. However, for those looking at a two to three day driving itinerary we recommend focusing on the three largest regions: 

Rutherglen: Home of Fortified Wines 

Rutherglen as a region is particularly renowned for its luscious Muscats and award-winning Durif. Notable producers such as Morris, Chambers Rosewood, andAll Saints Estateepitomise Rutherglen's winemaking history, while modern producers likeSt Leonards Vineyardrepresent a new wave.  

Sommeliers might travel for Muscat but will be blown away by the quality of table wines. For example, All Saints Estate boasts vineyards with Old Vine Marsanne and Shiraz and produces a 95-point Cabernet blend calledPierre. Meanwhile, over at St Leonards Vineyard, delight in a youthfulHIP SIP Muscatdesigned for cocktails or sample a skin-contact wine like Marsie (releasing soon), which is capturing the attention of the media. 

For those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime wine experience ask for a taste of the award-winning 100-year-old and 100-point 'Fortified Wine of the Year'Museum Muscatat All Saints Estate. The nominal tasting fee of $50 represents exceptional value when a full bottle retails at $1300.   

King Valley: Italia Down Under 

King Valley, affectionately known as "Little Italy," is synonymous with Italian varietals like Prosecco, Sangiovese, and Nebbiolo. The region's high altitude and cool climate produce wines that are vibrant and expressive of their varietal characteristics. Dal Zotto Family Wines, pioneers of Prosecco in Australia, offer a must-visit destination for Italophiles.  

Beechworth: Cool-Climate Elegance 

Beechworth, nestled amidst the Victorian Alps, boasts cool-climate wines characterised by distinctive minerality and finesse. Chardonnay, Gamay, and Pinot Noir thrive in the region's granite soils and elevated vineyards. Top producers to seek out include Fighting Gully Road and Giaconda (Chardonnay) and Savaterre (Pinot Noir). Many of these producers are by appointment only so be sure to plan ahead. 

Destination Dining in North-East Victoria 

KINat All Saints Estate, helmed by Chef Jack Cassidy, offers modern local dining in a historic 1864 building and was recently awarded with a One Hat and New Regional Restaurant of the Year Accolade in the 2024 Age Good Food Guide. Chef Jones Winery & Vineyard, with its French-inspired cuisine, also located in Rutherglen, and Beechworth’s Provenance Restaurant offering Japanese-influenced fare are also culinary highlights in the North-East. 

Where to Rest Your Head 

Unwind atMount Ophir Estate, a historic winery turned unique accommodation destination. With six elegantly refurbished accommodation options nestled amidst vineyards and a working farm, Mount Ophir Estate provides the perfect retreat for wine lovers. Additionally, for the wine collectors among us, Mount Ophir Estate releases a new generation Rutherglen Shiraz (organic principles) only made in the best vintage years and strictly limited in quantity.