(You could combine this with some exploring of the Woolshed Valley and/or Mt Pilot areas and drop in to Tinkers Hill vineyard on the way.)
Since the first grapes were harvested in Rutherglen in the 1850s, connoissuers of fine wines the world over have recognised the Muscats and Tokays of the region as wines of unsurpassed richness. Today, wine merchants, writers and wine lovers around the globe acclaim the Muscats and Tokays of Rutherglen as truly the world's richest wines.
The Muscats and Tokays of Rutherglen are a unique product of the climate, soils, skill and dedication of the region's winemakers. The art of making, blending and maturing has been perfected over many generations; often through long held family traditions passed down from father to son (and now daughter). Many of the wines are made from material of great age and scarcity.
The muscats of Rutherglen are classified under four descriptors that mark a progression in richness, complexity and flavour: Rutherglen Muscat, Classic Rutherglen Muscat, Grand Rutherglen Muscat and Rare Rutherglen Muscat. The same classifications also apply to Tokay.
"...It is truly remarkable that virtually every observer I have ever spoken to or read pays unstinting homage to the Muscats and Tokays of North East Victoria... These are wines of superb quality; they are a unique style among the great fortified wines of the world; and they are enormously - indeed dangerously - enjoyable."
- James Halliday, Australian Wine Atlas
While in Rutherglen sampllng superb examples of the regional specialty Muscat and Tokay try the restaurant at the magnificent All Saints Winery. There is the opportunity for going for the degustation menu-samples of the whole menu matched to a range of estate wines-allow 3 hours!. We also like Chambers winery for its old style rustic charm (superb Muscats and Tokays of course) and Bullers and Stanton and Killeen wineries for their traditional cellar doors and superb wines.
Unbelievably, you can buy these classics at far cheaper prices in bulk than even the cheap per bottle price and AGE THE WINE FURTHER YOURSELF by purchasing an oak barrel for about $250 for a 14 litre keg. Fill it and it further age it at home then enjoy tapping it from the keg and topping up as necessary.
We have done this ourselves with Tokay Muscat and Port blended from the above mentioned wineries using 14 litre kegs.
Read what the doyen of American Wine writers Robert Parker wrote about Chambers Muscat (still available in bulk as well as bottle!!)
This was in 2003 but this deal is still available for Muscat and Tokay with 2 litres in bulk for $33!!
Chambers Rutherglen Muscat 750ml "The Muscat is even better than the Muscadelle (Tokay), offering a rose/amber color followed by notes of black tea. This sexy effort is the equivalent of liquid Viagra. This singular treasure from Australia should not be missed! Wine Advocate #148 (Aug 2003) Robert Parker 95 points Drink 2002-2012 $19.95 for 750ml.
CALICO TOWN VINEYARD AND OLIVE GROVE (The Wicked Virgin!)
Another small vineyard favourite just outside town-Hopetown road near historic Chambers Vineyard.
Try big-flavoured wines and olive varietal oils in the lovely cellar door-with home style Moroccan style delicacies often available to savor in the church style building. Maybe the host John can give you a quick tour of the olive processing equipment there.Valhalla Wines, Wahgunyah - a straw-bale built winery using green power, worm-composting toilets and recycled waste water. These philosophies are leading toward organic principles in the vineyard using sustainable agricultural practices.These sustainable philosophies are applied to the manufacturing and marketing areas of the business. Wine boxes and bags are made from recycled cardboard. Newsletters, stationary and our wine label use recycled paper where possible. The aim is to achieve minimal waste at all stages of production.
Big local wines-e.g The Ranga!-and a number of unusual and elegant varietal combinations
Free membership and a quarterly newsletter
Members of the Valhalla Wine Club will automatically purchase two tasting packs of wine each year. A mixed six pack is sent in June and December to showcase new releases to members.
Events are often scheduled at Valhalla -check the website.