Wine O’clock in Nillumbik

VICTORIA’S Diamond Valley is brimming with wineries to suit every taste.

Wide range to suit all palates

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TEUNIS and Dorothy Kwak built their Tuscan-inspired vineyard, nestled among Nillumbik’s rolling hills, from the ground up.

The 8ha block of land was purchased for $17,000 in 1973 and when the bank would not loan the couple any more money, they had to use their resources.

The white cornerstones on the outside of the building were sourced at the time from Melbourne’s demolished APA building, which was once the world’s tallest building’s until the Eiffel Tower was built in 1889. The vineyard’s corrugated roofs were recycled from Panton Hill Primary School and the Melbourne Army Barracks.

“Teunis had to do everything himself and use free materials,” Ms Kwak said.

“He was a geology professor at the time and didn’t set out to make a winery but thought he’d like something to fall back on.”

The couple opened their cellar door during the ‘90s and now produce three different chardonnays from the one grape — including liquor.

“One of our wines was blind tasted against a $150 bottle of wine and no one could tell the difference — and we sell ours for $40,” she said. “There is such a wide range of wines that suit everyone’s palates — from those who like sweet wines, to dry wines to red to white.”

Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery is open on weekends and public holidays between 11am and 5pm. Details: 0408 101 523

 

Special place brewing

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THE Diamond Valley region’s first beer and cider producer is open for business.

George Apted opened Shaws Rd Winery more than 30 years ago producing exquisite wines such as a chardonnay, pinot noir and Bordeaux blend of cabernet sauvignon, franc and merlot.

His son, also named George, decided to take advantage of excess fruit on the family’s Strathewen orchid and produce an apple cider — called Cranky Mick.

“We’ve been mucking around with it (the cider) for the past 18 months to get the right blend of fruit,” Mr Apted said.

“We have apples and now we’re adding pears to get the consistency and taste we’re chasing. Hopefully we’ll have a heap of bottles at the Whittlesea show (in November).”

Mr Apted said a microbrewery has also been set up at the Arthurs Creek vineyard to produce the Shaw Thing Ale.

“We’ve been trying to find the right balance in the beer recipes for the last six months,” he said. “It’s all about diversifying for us and we’re excited about that.”

The winery is open to the public every third Sunday of the month between 11am and 5pm or by appointment.

Details: 0437 393 736

 

Organic approach

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IF YOU spot a sheep nestled among the vines at Hildebrand Organic Ridge Vineyard, don’t be alarmed.

“You often hear other vineyard owners talk about snails but I haven’t seen one because our sheep graze on the grass under the vines which seems to discourage snails,” coowner Jeff Buckland said.

Mr Buckland and his wife, Jenny Neilson (both pictured below), planted their first vines 18 years ago.

“We decided to go organic because I’m a firm believable in sustainable agriculture and I think the more you keep the farm in a natural balance the better. The vineyard doesn’t seem to be plagued with pests either,” Mr Buckland said.

“The difference with the organic vineyard is you have minimal input to the vineyards, so the sprays that are permissible are basic ones like sulphur and copper and you don’t use insecticides.”

Earlier this year the vineyard’s cellar door was revamped and moved into a shed perched on a hill.

“We try to incorporate the vineyard and wine experience with music which is why we schedule small concerts for Melbournebased artists,” he said.

“All of the small vineyards in the Diamond Valley are individualistic and have a different presentation of how wine can be enjoyed – ours is music.”

The vineyard is opened is open on Sundays between 12.30pm until 5pm. Bookings essential. Details: 0400 066 148

 

NILLUMBIK WINERIES:

Diamond Valley Vineyards 9722 0840

Hildebrand Ridge Vineyard 0400 066 148

Kings of Kangaroo Ground 9712 0666

Lovegrove Vineyard and Winery 9718 1569

Naked Range Wines 9710 1575

Nillumbik Estate 0408 337 326

Panton Hill Vineyard and Winery 9719 7342

Redbox Vineyard 9712 0440

Shaws Road Winery 9439 4161

Stockman Wines 9438 5538

Swipers Gully Winery 9437 2222

Wedgetail Estate 9714 8661

Yarrambat Estate Vineyard 9717 3710

 

Originally published in the Diamond Valley Leader Newspaper.

 


Brittany Shanahan travelled at her own expense. Photos taken by Brittany Shanahan unless otherwise stated.


 

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