The Grampians area has a high and growing reputation for producing great Rieslings, Cabernet Sauvignons, sparkling wines and Shiraz of depth, complexity and longevity. Only 2.5 hours drive from Melbourne, the region is a strong contributor across the spectrum and in our opinion, and those of important wine judges, this reputation is building quickly.
The Grampians area is recognised now as being the premier Riesling area in Victoria. The bracing acidity in the wines, due to the soil type and climate conditions (including cold nights and warm days which suit this variety) give a great depth of flavour and balance of fruit intensity. When coupled with this acid backbone, we find wines with longevity, finesse and intrigue. After all, Riesling is known as the “Noble Grape”, and this area fit that description well.
So what are the best wineries in the Grampians to start your Riesling journey?
A mainstay of the Australian wine industry based in the small town of Great Western on the main Melbourne-Adelaide Highway.
Probably better known now for its consumer sparkling wines (Seppelt Salinger) Seppelt has been producing outstanding table wines for over 100 years. Their top end red (St Peters Shiraz) is an industry icon, and typical of the great red styles they produce. If you haven’t tried a Drumborg of Seppelt Riesling, then you must.
Just off the highway at Buangor, this producer has a great reputation for quality high end reds, particularly Shiraz. Well worth the visit, but pricing is at the upper end.
Just on the outskirts of Great Western, this is a must visit.
Great Rieslings (winner of the 2018 Victorian Wine Show Best Riesling Trophy), beautiful Cabernets (Gold Medal at the same Victorian Wine Show) and Shiraz that is structured and complex. The winemaker here has developed a great following and reputation in the wine industry.
Also on the main highway, about one kilometre on the Melbourne side of Great Western. This small, family winery has been producing outstanding reds (Cabernet and Shiraz) for many years from old vines. It won the highly prestigious "Premiers Trophy" for the best table wine in Victoria at the 2019 Victorian Wine Show, beating 11 other finalists from the other 10 regional “best of wine show” wines.
Nestled on the outskirts of Ararat, the Rieslings produced here over the years have received several awards in the Riesling category at the Victorian Wine Show, The Shiraz is equally distinguished.
These wineries are skilled in what they do, but there are other producers that have vineyards in the area but don’t have a cellar door. A brand to watch is Clarnette and Ludvigson. This brand is run by Leigh Clarnette (also the winemaker, and ex Seppelt), who last year took out the trophy for the “Best Red Wine of Show” at the 2019 Victorian Wine Show, as well as the top gold medal in the Riesling class and a third gold medal in the Shiraz class with other wines. Leigh is a fine example of the small producer putting his passion, expertise and experience in producing great fruit in the vineyard, through to outstanding wines in the bottle.
Lastly - why would you take advice from me?
Well, prior to my retirement from the Victorian wine industry, I supplied new technology products and worked with winemakers to assist them in improving the quality of their wines. I developed lasting relationships with many winemakers from areas all over Australia and internationally. Some of these relationships are ongoing, and I consider many of these winemakers as friends and colleagues. The reason I mention this is to qualify my comments above as to why I believe the Grampians area and the winemakers that produce these outstanding wines are still striving to improve their quality and should be receiving the recognition they deserve. The awards that these wineries are now achieving means that the Grampians area is seen by the industry and wine judges as achieving this recognition, but perhaps the general public is a little behind.
But it is never too late to start! If you'd like to sample a taste of the Grampians at home, please try Wild Fire’s Grampians Riesling. This wine was rated 93 points (on the cusp of gold medal status) by The National Cool Climate Wine Show chief judge and Victorian Wine Show Director Robert Paul. That puts it in the top 5% of wines, which is very difficult to achieve. We're very proud of it!