For details of the local wineries, see the relevant part of the Local Food Directory.
There are lots of wineries/vineyards in Nillumbik. Whilst these artisan wine-makers are technically classified as producing Yarra Valley wines, they understand, at the vineyard level, what will thrive and what will fail in the Nillumbik soils, at this altitude and in these weather conditions. They don’t have a broad open valley – their vines are planted among small rolling hills in (typically) shallow grey loam over mudstone with precious little rainfall. These vignerons and wine-makers have studied and learned through experience what best suits this unique region, how much rain to expect and when, how the grapes are likely to ripen to reach their optimal harvesting time, and what to do in the occasional bushfire. What sets these small family-owned Nillumbik wineries apart is their intimate connection with Nillumbik and its rolling hills … and to their vineyards nestled among small hamlets and villages with distinctly Australia names like Kangaroo Ground, Smiths Gully, and Arthurs Creek.
Choosing wine is a matter of a taste so I’m not going to give my opinions on which of the wines I like. Rather, what I am going to do is simply to tell you what you can buy where. Here is a table listing the 13 Nillumbik wineries included in the Local Food Directory1 and what wines they make (click any of the names for a page with more detail about that winery):
|Hildebrand Ridge Organic Vineyard||X||X||X|
|Kings of Kangaroo Ground||X||X||X||X||X||Riesling|
|Lovegrove Vineyard & Winery||X||X||X||X||X||Several2|
|Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery||X||X||X||X||X||Several4|
|Red Box Vineyard & Winery||X||X||Several5|
|Shaws Road Winery||X||X||Several6|
|Swipers Gully Vineyard||X||X||X||X||Several7|
|Watson’s Creek Wines||X||X||X||Malbec|
|Yarrambat Estate Vineyard||X||X||X||X|
1. Four other wineries in Nillumbik are not included in the Directory, mainly because they only sell their wines by mail order.
These are: Diamond Valley Vineyards, Massaros, Naked Range Wines and Stockman Wines.
2. Fortified Chardonnay Merlot, Pressings, Liqueur Sauvignon Blanc, Liqueur Pinot Noir.
3. Nebbiolo, Pinot Chardonnay (sparkling), Pinot Grigio.
4. Cabernet-Sauvignon-Merlot-Franc, Chardonnay Liquor, Muscat, Pinot Port, Sparking Pinot Noir Chardonnay, Verdelho.
5. Cabernet Blanc, Ice Riesling, Ice Cabernet and Classic Tawny.
7. Sparkling Merlot, Verduzzo.
Clearly, before you buy any of the wines, you will probably want to taste them first. There are two main ways of doing this:
Cellar door: most of the wineries have a cellar door, typically open on Saturdays and Sundays. As well as offering (free) wine tastings, some also offer food, and most have great vistas, so you can make an afternoon of it. For example, Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery has around 6 wines available for tastings, serves pizza and has great buildings to look at and walk through (see picture).
- Open Cellars of Nillumbik (each October) and Winter Winefest (each June): most of the wineries open their doors on a particular weekend so that visitors can follow a trail from winery to winery. On these weekends, all of the wineries offer food and many have live music. The wine-makers are knowledgeable, friendly and happy to talk about wine and wine-making, and to provide a guided tasting lesson.
To help you plan your trip(s) around the wineries, here is a map of where they are (click to enlarge):
Some of the wineries only sell their products onsite. But some sell online, others sell via licensed shops and yet others sell at the local farmers’ markets. The table below provides details (again, click any of the names for a page with more detail about that winery or outlet).
|Hildebrand Ridge Organic Vineyard||X||X||X|
|Kings of Kangaroo Ground||X||X||X||X||X||X||Several1|
|Lovegrove Vineyard & Winery||X||X||X||X||X||IGA Friendly Grocers, Hurstbridge|
|Panton Hill Vineyard & Winery||X||X||X||X|
|Red Box Vineyard & Winery||X||X||X||Several3|
|Shaws Road Winery||X||X||X||X||X||X||X||IGA Friendly Grocers, Hurstbridge|
|Swipers Gully Vineyard||X||X|
|Watson’s Creek Wines||X|
|Wedgetail Estate||X||X||X||X||Dan Murphy’s|
|Yarrambat Estate Vineyard||X||X||X||X||X|
1. Fairfield Farmers’ Market; Hurstbridge Farmers’ Market; Shillinglaw Cafe, Eltham.
2. Blackhearts and Sparrows, Fitzroy North and Smith Street Cellars, Collingwood. Also, the following bars and restaurants: Anada, Fitzroy; Builders Arms Hotel, Fitzroy; Cutler & Co, Fitzroy; Easy Tiger, Collingwood; Gibsons Wine Bar, Hawthorn; Green Park Dining, Carlton; Hammer and Tong, Fitzroy; Hell of the North, Fitzroy; Hotel Lincoln, Carlton; Lee Ho Fook Restaurant, Collingwood; Little Drop of Poison, Eltham; Mercers, Eltham; Merricote, Northcote; Pinotta, Fitzroy North; Scopri, Carlton; Tao Tao House, Hawthorn; The Post Office Hotel, Coburg; The Town Mouse, Carlton; Underwood Wine Bar, Fitzroy North; Union Dining, Richmond.
3. Bedford Road Cellars, Ringwood East; FoodWorks, Whittlesea; Hurstbridge Cellars; Jimmy Watson Cellars, Balwyn; Leo’s Fine Food & Wine, Heidelberg; Mernda Cellars; Montmorency Cellar Door; Park Orchards Cellars; Research Licensed Supermarket; Ritchies IGA, Yarra Glen; Switchback Cellars, Chirnside Park; The Greensborough Hotel; The Old England Hotel, Heidelberg; Tunstall Cellars, Doncaster; Wonga Park Cellars.
A final note: did you know that Australia’s largest annual amateur wine event is organised by the Eltham & District Winemakers Guild and is held in Bulleen every November? The event is open to the public and includes lots of tasting opportunities (many of them being exotic flavoured wines), food/wine matching workshops and sausage etc making demonstrations. It really is well worth a visit. See the Guild’s website for details.