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Asked to rate the coun­try’s wine re­gions, most minds con­jure images of the top-rate winer­ies in South Australia’s Barossa Val­ley, the emerald-green hills of Victoria’s Yarra Val­ley, the sun-drenched vine­yards of Mar­garet River in Western Australia or NSW’S ac­claimed Hunter Val­ley. But there’s a spot on Victoria’s coast­line punch­ing well above its weight, with award-win­ning wines at­tract­ing a huge amount of in­ter­est – Gee­long and the Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula. While the penin­sula has al­ways drawn hol­i­day­mak­ers for its stun­ning beaches, the Bel­lar­ine is now mak­ing waves, not just in the wa­ter, but also among oenophiles seek­ing fine wines paired with gourmet lo­cal pro­duce. A com­fort­able drive from Mel­bourne in Victoria’s south­west, this area was the largest grape-grow­ing re­gion in Victoria’s gold rush era in the mid-19th cen­tury when Swiss set­tlers es­tab­lished vine­yards. The dis­cov­ery of the pest phyl­lox­era in the late 1800s, how­ever, meant all of the vines had to be dug up. Af­ter a hia­tus, the wine re­gion was built from the ground up again in the 1960s and has bounced back in the past cou­ple of decades with a clutch of winer­ies de­liv­er­ing some ex­cel­lent fruit-driven cool-cli­mate drops in­flu­enced by the coastal en­vi­ron­ment. The com­bi­na­tion of the soil, mod­er­ate rain­fall and the en­vi­ron­ment gives the re­gion a ter­roir of­ten likened to France’s Burgundy and Bordeaux. The Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula de­liv­ers ex­cel­lent pinot noir, chardon­nay and spicy shi­raz, with pinot gris turn­ing heads of late. Gee­long, Victoria’s sec­ond largest city, is a 25-minute drive from the Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula winer­ies and makes a great base for ex­plo­ration. The once in­dus­trial city has been trans­formed to offer plenty of en­tic­ing restau­rants and wine bars where you can sam­ple the best wine and pro­duce from the re­gion.


Tast­ing the award-win­ning wines pro­duced at this bou­tique win­ery will turn your world up­side down, quite lit­er­ally. The cel­lar door is as quirky as they come, lo­cated in an “up­side down house” – a tim­ber A-frame barn where the roof sits against the ground as if it’s been blown over in a gale (or knocked back a lit­tle too much wine, per­haps?). The grounds are dot­ted with eclec­tic sculp­tures and art ob­jects, though the off­beat vibe pos­si­bly be­lies the high qual­ity of the wines pro­duced here. Oakdene spe­cialises in cool-cli­mate wines of the re­gion, with va­ri­etals in­clud­ing chardon­nay, pinot noir, shi­raz, sauvi­gnon blanc, mer­lot and pinot gris.


Mcglashans us­ing French oak and ma­tur­ing for 12 months prior to bot­tling. Taste his premium cool-cli­mate wines, in­clud­ing the stand­out pinot noir and chardon­nay, at the rus­tic cel­lar door along­side ex­cep­tional food, such as wild-caught abalone and fresh seafood plat­ters – you can tell the win­ery is run by a lo­cal diver. The cel­lar door is decked out in au­to­mo­tive and mar­itime mem­o­ra­bilia and a col­lec­tion of clas­sic cars is on dis­play.


1995, be­com­ing an ac­claimed pro­ducer of mar­itime cool-cli­mate wines. Dar­ren Burke is the pri­mary wine­maker and at­tributes the qual­ity of his wines to “the use of am­bi­ent (wild) yeast com­monly em­ployed pro­vid­ing the wines with an ex­tra layer of com­plex­ity and verve”. The stel­lar line-up of Leura Park wines in­cludes sparkling pinot chardon­nay, sauvi­gnon blanc, ries­ling, pinot gris, chardon­nay, rosé, pinot noir and shi­raz. The Block 1 Re­serve chardon­nay is crafted to age in bot­tle and is con­sis­tently rated one of the top 20 in Australia. Wine­maker Robin Brock­ett (from nearby Scotch­man’s Hill) pro­duces the wine for Leura Park has gone from strength to strength since its first vines were planted in

Ninety-minute seg­way tours around the vines are avail­able ($80), which in­clude a glass of wine and a tast­ing plat­ter or pizza.


With such sweep­ing wa­ter views from the al­fresco deck here, you might be sat­is­fied with a $5 cask wine, but thank­fully you don’t have to stoop that low. Jack Rab­bit’s ex­pe­ri­enced wine­maker, Nyall Condo, was one of 10 fi­nal­ists in the Wine So­ci­ety Young Wine­maker of the Year Awards 2012 and ap­proaches his craft with min­i­mal in­ter­ven­tion and cre­ative use of oak to pro­duce some ter­rific re­sults. Pair an el­e­gant chardon­nay with a bowl of lo­cal Por­tar­ling­ton mus­sels in the cafe, or take it up a notch in the con­tem­po­rary Jack Rab­bit restau­rant. Ex­tend this trail with a stop in at Terindah Es­tate next door to sam­ple their ri­val bay views and ex­cel­lent pinot noir.


The old­est win­ery on the Bel­lar­ine Penin­sula, with the first vines be­ing planted in 1982 on the ex­tinct vol­cano of Mt Bel­lar­ine, Scotch­man’s Hill is a classy op­er­a­tion. The main va­ri­etals grown in the vine­yard are sauvi­gnon blanc, chardon­nay, pinot noir and shi­raz, along with the re­cently planted pinot gris. Their 2016 Scotch­man’s Hill chardon­nay scored 97 points in James Hal­l­i­day’s 2017 Wine Companion and the win­ery was also rated among Hal­l­i­day’s Top 100 Winer­ies for 2018. Don’t miss tast­ing one of its knock­out shi­razes. A new cel­lar door opened in 2017 with a cozy at­mos­phere, leafy al­fresco area and views out across the wa­ter to the Mel­bourne city sky­line. The eagerly awaited restau­rant is to open in 2018. BASILS FARM Like most winer­ies on the penin­sula, Basils Farm takes full ad­van­tage of its lo­ca­tion with end­less views across Swan Bay. Take a stroll through the vegie gar­dens and plonk down on the lawn un­der a para­sol, or grab a ta­ble in the cafe to sam­ple the range of ar­ti­sanal wines. Try a wine flight – where three half­glasses are matched with a tast­ing plat­ter – to ap­pre­ci­ate the range, which in­cludes rosé, chardon­nay, pinot noir, shi­raz, sauvi­gnon blanc and pinot gris start­ing from the 2018 vin­tage. Re­pro­duced with per­mis­sion from Wine Trails: Australia & New Zealand, 2018 Lonely Planet; lone­ly­planet.com. Book avail­able in stores now.

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