What Makes Victorian Wines So Great?

Sep 06, 18 What Makes Victorian Wines So Great?

Usually talk of trips to Australia conjure-up visuals of sunny beaches, rugged outback and Nicole Kidman. We very rarely think of Australia as a cool-climate continent, with low to moderate temperatures, and plenty of rainfall. However, when it comes to wine, not all Australian regions are equal. Sure, you have the Barossa Valley and Margaret River regions which bring the heat with their big Shiraz and Cab Sauv’s, but let’s take a moment to appreciate the subtlety and greatness of the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula regions in Victoria.


The two most prominent and well-regarded wine producing areas in Victoria, the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, are located in the South-East of the island continent. They experience a cool to moderate climate due in part to their latitudinal position, as well as the cooling effects from the Southern Ocean. So, what does this mean for all us wine lovers out there? It means we get to experience a subtle, but varied expression of the varieties most planted here, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Approach to Winemaking

The other thing that sets Aussies apart and makes their wines that much better to drink, is their approach to winemaking. Without any strict guidelines that prohibit free expression in the vineyard and winery, winemakers have the ability to experiment and create wines from traditional, and not so traditional grape varieties, in a way that is uniquely Australian. This gives us the chance to compare and contrast varieties from the old world heavy hitters like France and Italy, with a new world twist. This creative nature and desire for something different extends to the cellar door experience.

Cellar Door

The great thing about visiting a cellar door in the Yarra Valley or on the Mornington Peninsula, is the personal attention you receive and the knowledge and insight you gain.

You’ll often find the winemaker themselves pouring you a tasting, and sharing with you first-hand experiences about the wine in your glass. It really doesn’t get much better than that!

So now you know what makes Victorian wines so great, let’s find out the best places to try them…

On the Mornington Peninsula

Ocean Eight – Mornington Peninsula

Set on a beautifully manicured garden landscape, this winery and cellar door really is picture perfect in every way. The only thing better than the surrounds, are the wines of course. Not for sale anywhere else in the world outside of this very cellar door, you absolutely must visit Ocean Eight when on the Mornington Peninsula. Their premium range includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris. Not a huge variety of offering, but what they do, they do extremely well. Enjoy a tasting in their underground cellar, you won’t regret it.

Quealy Winemakers

A true testament to the Australian spirit of doing things a little bit differently, Quealy Winemakers on the Mornington Peninsula have set the standards in the region for growing varieties not common to the area, and doing an outstanding job of it. The first to plant Pinot Grigio in the region and sell Friulano commercially, they have a range not often seen on the Peninsula. Pioneer winemaker Kathleen Quealy is often on hand at the cellar door to give you an insight into their winemaking techniques, and is always willing to give guests a private tour of the winery. Also, one of the few producers using terracotta amphora to mature their wines, which you’ll be lucky enough to sneak a peek at when you stop by for a tasting.

In the Yarra Valley

Yileena Park – Yarra Valley

Nestled into a hillside at the base of the Christmas Hills in the Yarra Valley, Yileena Park offers a unique and homely cellar door experience. They make premium wines that really highlight the great quality fruit being grown in the region. Most of the wines at Yileena Park are aged for a minimum of four years before release, the reserve range is aged for 6 years, and the reserve Cabernet Sauvignon aged for 8 years before it’s available at cellar door for purchase and tasting.

While you enjoy your wine, you get to experience endless views of the Steels Creek mountain range and devour a platter of smoked olives, cheeses, nuts and olive oil – all produced using the very barrels that their wines are matured in. Owners Bob and Diane are also always on hand to chat about the current and previous vintages.

Pimpernel Vineyards – Yarra Valley

This quiet little cellar door in the heart of the Yarra Valley, is making a lot of noise in the wine industry, undoubtedly producing some of the best premium wines in Victoria. If you love your Pinot Noir, then you’ll be spoiled for choice with a significant range available and open for tasting. You can even compare different Pinot clones and the different winemaking techniques used to produce wines from each one. They also produce some outstanding Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Viognier, Syrah and Shiraz, as well as some smashing blends.

Wine Compass are the Victorian wine country specialists and offer private guided tours of both the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula. To learn more about Victorian wines, visit the Wine Compass Blog today.

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