|On the Grape Trail||Our April 2007 Issue|
With over 2000 wineries in this
country, the visitor is never too far away from the grape when the
conventional tourist paths are followed. The major centers of Sydney,
Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, Perth and
Hobart all have wineries on their doorsteps… and there are many in
between. Because of the many options and limited time available, selecting
which ones to visit can be a difficult choice. Later, I will discuss a few
wineries that are both accessible and informative, but first a little primer
on tasting room etiquette that could actually apply anywhere.
Most wineries in Australia do not charge for tastings and do not expect you to purchase their product just because you have sampled it. However, if staff have gone to the trouble and expense of opening up a special bottle or two, then I feel a purchase is pretty well mandatory.
Tasting room staff in Australia tend to be more knowledgeable and easy going than their North American brethren. (In fact, I have found this to be true in both the retail and restaurant trade in general.) Marketing staff, however, should not be expected to know every nuance of the winemaking and grape growing process and it constantly amazes me that ‘cork-dorks’ of all stripes try to display their wine knowledge at the expense of someone 30 years younger and a week into the job. Keep the technical stuff for the winemaker who may be available at the smaller operations.
A HOMIE'S FOLLY
A couple of hours by car north of the Yarra, in the Nagambie Lakes Region, sits the Tahbilk Winery and Vineyard - established in 1860. This historical site boasts underground cellars and many buildings and vines that are up to 125 years old. The Wetlands Café, Tahbilk’s on-site restaurant on the Goulburn River is a ‘must’ stop for lunch which you can then work off on the wetland hiking trails. Talbilk is one of those “best buy” wineries that has both reasonable prices and a broad range of reds and whites.
About one and a half hours north of Tahbilk, in the Milawa Gourmet Region, sits the Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard - another Australian wine institution. This winery's products are widely distributed throughout the country and they source their fruit from all over Victoria. This includes the up and coming King Valley (Italian and Spanish varieties) and the older Rutherglen district for Ports, Liqueur Muscat and Old Tokay.
SOUTH AUS +
Mac MacDonald, Noosa, Queensland, April 16 2007
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