The Grampians mountains rise out of the Wimmera Plains in western Victoria as a beacon for nature and adventure lovers. But there’s also a burgeoning collection of wine experiences, starting two hours west of Melbourne. Some are icons, dating back 150 years, and they’re backed by a new wave of boutique makers with individual cool-climate styles.
Each offers a unique blend of fine wine, great food, stirring landscape and warm hospitality. Take time to try as many as you can, and have plenty of room in the boot for cellar-stockers.
While you’re in the neighbourhood, check out award-winning restaurants, cosy cafes and nostalgic bakeries. There are also mountains to be scaled, waterfalls to admire and heaps of fun stuff for the family, including mini-golf and a zoo.
Whether you come for the wine and stay for the views, or travel for the views and discover the wine along The Grampians Way, the region has it all.
Mt Langi Ghiran Vineyard
Sitting at the southern end of the Great Dividing Range, this is one of the most scenic vineyards in Australia, and it’s the place that has elevated peppery cool-climate shiraz to the upper echelons of Australian wine, notably with its flagship Langi Shiraz. Enjoy the view from the new cafe or, better still, take one of its vintage bikes on a picnic ride through the vineyard, finishing with a game on the bocce court.
Address: 80 Vine Rd, Bayindeen
Acacia Tourist Park, Ararat.
“Handmade” is the principle behind this small family-run winery tucked away in the bush in the shadow of Mt Cole. The love and care are concentrated on three distinctive wines: the Grampians’ stalwart shiraz, the dry, aromatic white variety, viognier, and the noble Italian red grape nebbiolo. The cafe is the place for a light lunch or snack.
Address: 197 Mount Cole Rd, Warrak
The Rotundone Road Shiraz Adventure connects three supreme makers of this local hero variety.
The Blue House at Mountainside.
Montara has been a mainstay of the Grampians wine region for five decades, and its 40-year-plus shiraz, pinot noir and Riesling vines are supplemented by newer varieties such as cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay, pinot gris and sauvignon blanc, sparkling wines and now a gin utilising native botanicals. And watch for monthly Wine Down Fridays, where great music is added to the food and wine mix.
Address: 76 Chalambar Rd, Ararat
Take the back road through canola country from Ararat to Glenthompson, detouring via the historic Willaura Bakery for its famous vanilla slice.
The village of Moyston is a famous name in Victorian wine lore, and, since 1999, it has hosted this micro-winery where the emphasis of owners Simon and Kaye Clayfield is 100 per cent on high-quality shiraz, using traditional wine-making principles, including a trusty old hand-operated grape press. The winemakers keep the experience personalised by making a visit to the cellar door by appointment only.
Address: 25 Wilde Lane, Moyston
Kick a ball on the oval at Moyston where young Tom Wills, founder of Australian Rules, played the original marn grook (game of ball) version with his boyhood Indigenous friends.
Miners Ridge Wines
Andrew and Katrina Toomey don’t let their much-lauded shiraz hog the limelight, because their riesling has won its share of trophies at regional Victorian wine shows in the past two years. These wines are augmented by cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and now savoury tempranillo. For a true insight into viticulture, get the benefits of Andrew’s 40 years of experience on one of his vineyard talks and walks (bookings required).
Address: 135 Westgate Rd, Armstrong
The private Sunset Wine Experience includes a tasting (with cheese platter) where you get a bottle of your choice, a gourmet hamper with homemade treats and transport to a sunset viewing area in a far corner of the Miners Ridge vineyard.
Wine industry veteran Adam Richardson established and oversaw this boutique vineyard while living in the United States, but now the family has returned to the Grampians to tend their vines, which yield a blend of the classics (shiraz and riesling) with unusual varieties for the region such as nebbiolo, durif and tannat. ATR also specialises in unique combinations such as the Hard Hill Road ‘The Field’, a blend of four red and two white grapes. atrwines.com.au
Address: 103 Hard Hill Rd, Great Western
Remain immersed in ATR’s rustic setting with an eclectic tasting plate curated by Tom’s wife Eva Richardson, which provides a gourmet sample of western Victoria’s best producers.
The new cellar, cafe and deck overlooks some of the oldest vines in Australia, including shiraz (planted in 1878) and riesling (1883), imbuing the wines with great character. The winery also does a Great Western classic, sparkling shiraz, where the secret, according to owner Tom Guthrie, is not to make it too sweet, and he’s adding warmer-climate varieties such as grenache and tempranillo to the mix. There’s a tawny and a topaque for fans of fortifieds.
Address: 1477 Western Hwy, Great Western
The Guthries also raise sheep, so enjoy their lamb pie followed by ice cream infused with Grampians Estate shiraz.
This 19th Century wine estate is the showcase for one of the venerable names in Australian wine. The iconic St Peters vineyard has vines established from the original 1867 root stock, with Seppelt still making a St Peters Shiraz. But for many generations of wine drinkers, Seppelt means sparkling wine, both red and white. The Seppelt underground cellars and museum is a trip down memory lane.
Address: 36 Cemetery Rd, Great Western
Take a tour beneath the historic winery to “the drives”, three kilometres of tunnels dug by gold miners to form the largest underground cellar in Australia.
Best’s Great Western
If Best’s historic underground cellar seems mysterious with its dusty barrels in dark corners, there’s just as much intrigue in the vineyard where there are vines so old that the Thomsons – only the second family to own the winery in its 150-year history – can’t identify every variety. Nevertheless, Best’s still make a white and a red from this mélange. Beside its mainstays of sterling shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and riesling, a rare pinot meunier is much lauded.
Address: 111 Bests Rd, Great Western
The village of Great Western is the epitome of charming, with a historic pub, church and the cosy Salingers Cafe.
The Tiny House at Hounds Run Vineyard.
This estate in tiny Pomonal is a one-stop-shop for gourmet Grampians goodness. The cafe sources elements from all over the region, which come together in sumptuous tasting boards and individual menu items. Until its young vines start producing, the wine comes from nearby Clarnette & Ludgvisen plus Mount Langi Ghiran, but the beer and cider are in-house specialties of owners Pep and Adam Atchison. All can be enjoyed in curated flights, including one matching wine with chocolate.
Address: 2079 Pomonal Rd, Pomonal
Pomonal Estate is one stop on the unique Grampians Helicopter scenic wine tours.
Mt Cassel Villa at Pomonal Estate.
The 2019 Fallen Giants Shiraz has recently received accolades that every Grampians producer cherishes: it won the prestigious Jimmy Watson Trophy for best young red at the 2021 Royal Melbourne Wine Awards, and the Trevor Mast Trophy for best shiraz. Planted at the base of the Grampians range in 1969 by local icon Trevor Mast with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and Riesling, it’s a vineyard that’s looking to the future, as it’s soon to be certified as fully organic. Enjoy a platter on the deck, borrow a picnic rug or bring your meat to sizzle on the barbecue.
Address: 4113 Ararat-Halls Gap Rd, Halls Gap
Grampians Pioneer Cottages, Halls Gap
Royal Mail Hotel
The concept of the country pub changed forever when a local family revamped the Royal Mail in 1997, and it’s now known around the world for its fine food and the breadth and depth of its 25,000-bottle wine cellar. Settle into a dreamy degustation dinner at its main restaurant Wickens and see how Grampians wines stand up to the best international vintages. Or relax at the more casual Parker Street Project.
Address: 99 Parker St, Dunkeld
Take a hike for spectacular views on trails leading to Mt Sturgeon, Mt Abrupt or The Piccaninny.
This vineyard at the southern end of the Grampians sticks to what it knows best: pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot gris, including still, sparkling and late-harvest styles of pinot gris, all made by renowned western Victorian vigneron Adam Latta. The sparkling gris goes beautifully with its indulgent high tea. This welcoming property is also home to what owners – the Lacey family – calls its menagerie: Bear the dog, Wally and Moe the cats, a retired horse called Ethyl and plenty of sheep, ducks, geese and chickens.
Address: 271 Pierrepoint Rd, Hamilton
Visit the geological phenomenon that is the crater of the (extinct) volcano Mt Rouse at nearby Penshurst.
Aquila Eco Lodges, Dunkeld.
Begun by fourth-generation local farmer Chris McClure and his wife Sheila in 2005, Barangaroo’s philosophy is to make expressive and approachable wines to be enjoyed in the most beautiful surroundings, which is why the couple has also strived hard to create a lush garden at the property, which sits between two distinctive features: the Grampians to the east and Mt Arapiles to the west. Among the vineyard’s offerings is the aromatic and refreshing Italian variety vermentino, in both dry and sparkling forms.
Address: 928 Plush Hannans Rd, Lower Norton
The less-visited Wartook Valley area of the Grampians has several rewarding attractions, including ancient rock shelters and the intriguing Hollow Mountain.
Norton Estate Wines
Scientific analysis of the soil in this patch in the north-west of the Grampians has revealed an area of outstanding potential, and the Spence family is making the most of it with shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc, reviving a wine culture here that had been stalled by drought a century ago. So boutique is Norton Estate, it makes only 25 dozen of the hallmark Wendy’s Block Shiraz each year, to ensure the highest quality, while the sauvignon blanc gets a touch of oak to enrich this popular style.
Address: 758 Plush Hannans Rd, Lower Norton
Just outside the nearby village of Natimuk is Mt Arapiles, a rock-climbing mecca in Victoria.
Kangaroos In The Top Paddock, Wartook Valley