Vintage roundup - 2010 in the North East Valleys

How is this year's vintage looking? What's on amidst the vines?

By Sara Schwarz
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Food and Wine

Taminick Cellars

Boynton's Feathertop Winery
Sangiovose E Salsiccie
Brown Brothers, Milawa, King Valley, Victoria have a wine to suit every palate
Jen Pfeiffer, Pfeiffer Wines, Rutherglen, Victoria

 

Alpine Valleys, Beechworth, Glenrowan, King Valley, Rutherglen and The Milawa Gourmet Region. The mere mention of these regions in Victoria’s North East Valleys are enough to have a ‘foodie’ salivating in anticipation and with good reason.

In amongst the peaks, rivers and plains you will find artisans of all kinds, established wine families, regional provedores and restaurateurs, boutique brewers and more - all masters of their crafts.

With autumn just around the corner, the grape harvest is in full swing. And with harvest comes a time of celebration and the opportunity for you to reap the rewards of their labour. To help you plan your North East Valleys experience, a few local wine producers have taken a moment to let us in on what’s happening in amongst their vines this season.

 

Alpine Valleys: Boynton's Feathertop Winery

Budburst was a full four weeks later than usual at Boyton’s picturesque Feathertop winery this year. Winemaker (and master brewer), Kel Boynton predicts a truly terrific vintage with harvesting starting in March: ‘I love vintage - it is both physically and mentally demanding, yet so rewarding. It is when the magic happens – the fruition of all the hard work in the vineyard, to the harvest of the grapes to juice, to wine - sort of like conception, gestation and birth’

This year many of Boynton’s cellar door and restaurant team have put their hands up to join in the vintage madness (have we mentioned the 12 to 15 hour days), so if your waiter looks a little tired with stained purple fingers you’ll know you are speaking to an expert.

Throughout vintage: Hamish Nugent, Boynton’s chef from Tsubo at Dinner Plain will continue to deliver the 'Proudly Porepunkah' experience - a Japanese inspired menu at lunchtime, five days a week from Thursday to Monday  »

 

Beechworth: Star Lane Winery

Famous for it’s bakery, honey and apples, Beechworth’s cool nights and warm sunny days are also perfect for producing grapes with excellent colour in the skin and a depth of flavour in the juice.

Home to only a handful of wineries, Star Lane Winery is the newest cellar door in the region, although owners Brett and Liz Barnes have been growing grapes and making wine for a few years now. Giaconda’s winemaker Rick Kinzbrunner has lent a guiding hand throughout the years and with some excellent reviews to date, Star Lane is definitely one to watch.

Throughout vintage: Star Lane Cellar Door is now open every weekend and public holidays throughout the vintage and beyond. Platters are available and visitors are encouraged to sit back and enjoy the views over the vineyard and surrounding mountain ranges with a glass of Star Lane wine in hand »

 

Glenrowan: Taminick Cellars

After time spent at the famous (then named) Chateau Tahbilk, in 1904 Esca Booth was inspired to set up his own vineyards in Taminick. Today, over 100 years on, the Booth family still manages the winery and vineyards with direct descendant Peter and his son James taking care of the viticulture and winemaking.

With well established vines (the shiraz vines planted in 1919), and an indepth knowledge of the climate and region, the Booth’s report welcome rain early in the year that has left the vines fresh and vibrant. They are looking to being picking begins towards the end of February.

March 6 Taminick Vintage Long Lunch: Notoriously difficult to tie a winemaker down at this time of year, on Saturday March 6, Taminick’s winemakers will take the afternoon off for a sumptuous five course seasonal menu. Join the winemaker’s table for an enjoyable afternoon of fine wine, slow food and good company at a leisurely country pace »

 

King Valley: Pizzini Wines

Home to a number of Italian migrant farming families turned vignerons and winemakers, the King Valley is renowned for it’s luscious Italian style wines, all made with good food in mind.

At Pizzini, the pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc are already picked and crushed with the later ripening whites and reds to be harvested over the coming month or so. Unique to Pizzini is their Vin Santo, a sumptous red dessert wine made from the grapes of 90 year old tempranillo vines. Once harvested, these bunches are then laid out to dry on racks for three months. This concentrates the grapes’ flavour before it being pressed and then barrel aged for five years.  Ask the cellar door staff to tell you a little more about this very special wine.

June 12 and 13 Sangiovese e Salsicce: Each year over the Queen's Birthday Weekend Pizzini celebrates with their 'Sangiovese and Salsicce' (homemade Italian pork sausage) festival. Book into the five course long lunch on the Saturday or visit any time over the weekend to enjoy the roving entertainers, sausage making classes and new release wines. Ensure you leave room for Nonna Rosetta’s famous apple strudel »

 

Rutherglen: Pfeiffer Wines

In the slightly warmer climes of Rutherglen, Pfeiffer Wines vintage is already in full swing with chardonnay grapes the first off the vines.  An exciting and exhausting time for all involved, winner of the 2009 Wine Society Sommeliers Choice Award Jen Pfeiffer loves vintage, and who wouldn’t, for ‘the aromas that fill the cellar from floral and tropical fruit in the whites, to berries, spice and mint in the reds.’   What further encouragement do you need to visit this season?

March 6 and 7, 13 and 14 The Tastes of Rutherglen: Visit Pfeiffer Wines during the Tastes of Rutherglen as they welcome back phenomenal folk and roots artist Dave Daley, while in the kitchen, legendary North East Victorian chef Leigh Hall will be cooking up a regionally inspired storm »

 

King Valley: Brown Brothers

At Brown Brothers the fruit for the sparkling wines (pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier) has already been hand picked from vineyards in the King Valley and the quality is looking excellent. The 2010 red grape varieties are showing excellent potential too with small berries showing good colour and flavour.

At the cellar door, look out for the ‘Patricia’. Named after matriarch Patricia Brown, this is an elegant European style sparkling that is carefully hand crafted reflecting all the love and care Patricia has put into her family over the years.

April 3 to 5 The Brown Brothers Wine and Food Easter Festival: is a free festival for the whole family with live entertainment, a farmer's market, food and wine each day. Be one of the first to try Brown Brothers new sparkling dolcetto and syrah being launched at the festival »
 

Regions

  • Alpine Valleys (VIC)
  • Beechworth (VIC)
  • Glenrowan (VIC)
  • Heathcote (VIC)
  • King Valley including Milawa (VIC)
  • Legends, Wine and High Country (NE Victoria) (VIC)
  • North East Victoria (VIC)

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February 22nd, 2010
 
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