Discover a taste of Europe close to home with Northern Victoria’s ultimate winery experiences.
A cellar door is just the tip of the vineyard when it comes to Northern Victoria’s ultimate winery experiences. Offering a little slice of France, Italy and the Med within four hours of Melbourne, these winery experiences are simply unmissable.
Learn to blend the perfect drop for your tastebuds with Tahbilk’s cellar door manager, sip a bubbling glass of prosecco on a hilltop above Pizzini’s vines, explore the unseen pockets of Feathertop Winery’s private grape-laden vineyard and while away an afternoon over a charcuterie picnic on Brown Brothers’ lawn.
Together with Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia, we unearth Northern Victoria’s unmissable cellar doors and experiences – each with their own distinct European style.
Tahbilk Winery – Enjoy a taste of Bordeaux in the Nagambie Lakes region
It’s a 90-minute drive up the Hume Highway – winding through rolling mountains – to the picture-perfect grounds of Tahbilk Winery. The drive is thirsty work, so it’s only fitting that this heritage vineyard takes its name from the local Daung-Wurrung clans’ word for the area: ‘tabilk-tabilk’, or ‘place of many waterholes’. The extra ‘h’ was added for a touch of ‘French-ness’ (or ‘je ne sais quoi’).
Surrounded by 11km of the Goulburn River, 700 acres of vines, and a landmark, cathedral-worthy 1882 tower, this 160-year-old winery’s A Day at Tahbilk experience will transport you to Bordeaux before you even set foot out of the car. As you’re led down the gravel path through the original village square, back to the historic cellar door and into the underground cellar, you’ll gain an appreciation for the history and legacy of Tahbilk (five generations strong), where wines age, mature and ferment – some in barrels from the 1800s.
Become a winemaker for a day as you’re tutored by cellar door manager, Holly, who will help you craft a wine that’s truly tailored to you. Enrich your newly developed tastebuds with a two-course lunch at Wetlands View Restaurant, perched on the backwaters of the Tahbilk Billabong, with a glass of wine perfectly paired to each course (the arancini and corn fritters are exquisite).
Finish the afternoon with a stroll (or you may be offered an eco-cruise) among 8km of lagoons, curving billabongs and bird hides through restored wetlands, now rich with endangered and threatened species of watershield lily and Murray-Darling rainbowfish.
Hot tip: If you visit during Day on the Green – an annual festival celebrating good food, wine and great music – you might be lucky enough to hear the music floating from neighbouring Mitchelton Wines, across the Goulburn to the tasting deck of Tahbilk’s cellar door.
Ready to experience it for yourself? Book your A Day at Tahbilk experience here.
Pizzini Wines – Immerse yourself in Northern Italy along the Prosecco Road
You don’t need to leave Victoria to experience la dolce vita; instead, sip the fruits of Northern Italy at Pizzini Wines, just three hours from Melbourne. The vineyards here are a kaleidoscope of Italian varietals (think prosecco, sangiovese and nebbiolo), which can be enjoyed at the cellar door or outdoor prosecco picnic area (the ultimate Instagram spot). But for the true vino connoisseur, you can’t go past Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia’s The Maker’s Journey.
Take a 4WD through the mosaic of vines to a secluded hilltop, where your Wine Ambassador – sometimes Joel, the chief winemaker, other times Chaz, expert cellar door manager – will pop a bottle of prosecco over a red-and-white table-clothed barrel and regale you with the history of Alfredo and Katrina Pizzini. From the 1978 vineyard, venture into the winery and weave between stainless steel tanks, concrete fermenters and oak barrels; learning how wines age and taking your angel’s share using the ‘wine thief’ tool for a tasting right from the source.
Returning to the cellar door, take a seat in a private tasting room within Pizzini’s former tobacco drying kiln (the King Valley used to be strewn with tobacco farms). It’s here you’ll swirl, sniff and sip some of the finest wines outside of Italy – if Chaz is your Wine Ambassador, you’ll soon learn to love the nebbiolo varietal. Finish your journey in the courtyard, beautifully framed by rows of roses, where you’ll enjoy Mama Pizzini’s cooking legacy and Katrina’s expert farm-to-plate produce with an antipasti platter and your favourite glass of wine. Saluti.
Hot tip: Spend the night two minutes up the road at the Pizzini family’s Mountain View Hotel. This little slice of Italy has four rooms available, so you can linger a little longer along Prosecco Road. Before bed, drink in the soothing atmosphere of the ‘therapy garden’ – strewn with fairy lights – over a bowl of deliciously fluffy gnocchi or handmade spaghetti.
Ready to experience it for yourself? Book The Maker’s Journey here.
Feathertop Winery – Join the maker among Med-inspired vines in the Alpine Valleys region
Entering your unique code at the entrance of Feathertop Winery and watching the wrought-iron gates open truly make this Alpine Valleys region winery feel like your very own European estate – surrounded by luscious rows of Italian, French, Spanish and Mediterranean varietals (22, to be exact).
Just under four hours from Melbourne, and open to Summit Cru Wine Club members and Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia only, Feathertop is your personal cellar door. The incredible Behind the Wines & Vines experience is led by none other than Head Winemaker, Nick Toy. Your journey begins with views of Mount Buffalo from a special vantage point, where Nick will tell you about owner and founder Kel Boynton’s 30-year journey to reach this exclusive state of existence, where 90% of the vineyard’s wines are sold directly to members. Learn about the family’s history and follow Nick into his self-proclaimed ‘man cave’, a winery purposely designed to be a one-man operation.
Taste the fruits of Nick’s eight years at Feathertop in the rose-framed courtyard, where the man himself will tell you about the winery’s process for crafting the perfect bottle. The vines here offer everything from French-inspired pinot gris to Spain’s famed tempranillo. Summit Cru Wine Club members can choose to have a tasting seven days a week and enjoy a picnic whenever they like on the sprawling grounds (charges apply).
Hot tip: Extend your experience with a stay in the boutique Peggy Adelaide Suite at Feathertop. Designed for couples, this elegant and sophisticated hideaway invites you to drink in the vineyard views from your private balcony, relax in your very own deep-soaking couples’ bathtub and sit back on the plush king bed, enjoying an included deli board and glass of Feathertop wine while watching a movie from the boutique DVD collection.
Ready to experience it for yourself? Book the Behind the Wines & Vines here.
Brown Brothers – Be transported to Spain with a wine lover’s picnic experience
You couldn’t ask for a more picturesque setting than Milawa winery Brown Brothers, King Valley winemaking royalty. Just under three hours north of Melbourne, lush swathes of grapevines – first planted in 1889 – make for the perfect spot to pop a bottle of signature prosecco and savour the best of the region’s fresh, local produce.
Find a spot in the shade of the winery’s original water tank, between Brown Brother’s Restaurant, wine bar and cellar door, where you can sip Med-inspired wines including tempranillo, graciano and dolcetto. While away the afternoon pouring glasses of prosecco and grazing on a gourmet platter packed with flavours that will transport you to Spain and Italy. Savour cheeses from nearby Milawa Cheese Company, fresh strawberries with candied walnuts, and homemade sourdough crafted from five-year starter, which pairs perfectly with the in-house blended olive oil.
Hot tip: If you want to truly experience Brown Brothers’ history, join Ultimate Winery Experiences Australia’s five-hour Wine & Food Adventure. Forage for produce, take a tour of the winery and enjoy a tasting in the cellar door before lunch at the restaurant, crafted using produce you helped pick – all paired with a selection of Brown Brothers wine, of course.
Ready to experience it for yourself? Book Brown Brothers’ Food & Wine Adventure here.