The Goulburn Valley has a detailed history dating back to first vineyard plantings in 1860. The abundance of water, warm climate and sandy soils has enabled this region to consistently produce wine since the 1860s.
The history of the Goulburn Valley is closely linked to the historic Tahbilk winery. The "old cellars" at Tahbilk were completed at the end of the 1860s and the "new cellar", sitting underneath the immaculately preserved wooden winery buildings, commenced in 1875. Tahbilk still produces a few hundred cases of wine each year from vines planted in the 1860s. Goulburn Valley also boasts the oldest and largest plantings of Marsanne in the world. Across the Goulburn River, Mitchelton is the another notable winery of the region characterized by its landmark tower and striking contemporary architecture. Although much younger than Tahbilk, Mitchelton has established a formidable reputation for specialising in Rhone varieties and Riesling since its establishment in 1969. Both wineries are located in the Nagambie lakes sub-region..
- The region is surrounded by water, with lakes, billabongs and creeks scattered throughout.
- The first vineyards were planted in the 1860s.
- The region is currently home to around 15 wineries.
- Nagambie Lakes is a registered subregion in the southern end of Goulburn Valley.
- The region has a typical inland valley-floor climate, with the Goulburn River being the predominant topographical feature influecing the local terroir.
- The region is renowned for its Shiraz, which is the principal grape grown. Marsanne, Riesling, Carbernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay are also produced.
- The Marsanne plantation is the oldest and largest in the world.
The region is distinctly warm, with a typical inland valley-floor climate and substantial diurnal temperature ranges. The heat is mitigated by the abundance of lakes, billabongs and creeks associated with the Goulburn River. Abundant water for irrigation and loose textured sandy, gravelly soils typically produce generous yields without compromising colour or flavour.
The soils vary widely, falling into three principal groups. There are the usual red and brown sandy clay loams of south-eastern Australia, plus yellow-brown clay loams and gritty, gravelly quartzose sands laid down by the Goulburn River.
Shiraz: The principal grape grown in the Goulburn Valley for over a century, Shiraz remains capable of producing a red wine of great flavour and longevity. The wines present ripe, rich fruit overtones when young and age to reveal darker fruits, with hints of pepper, dark chocolate, soft supple leather and earth.
Marsanne: The Goulburn Valley boasts the oldest and largest plantings of Marsanne in the world. Lemon-accented, the oaked styles gain intensity and richness with age. Unoaked, the wine is delicate in its youth and can be long-lived. As these wines age, they build the honeysuckle bouquet and taste that typifies the variety.
Riesling: Despite being a region with a warmer climate, the region can produce excellent Riesling. The wines have considerable weight, with lime and tropical fruit aromas and flavours. Despite their early appeal, the wines also have the capacity to age attractively over the medium term.
Chardonnay: This is a wine of rapidly increasing importance which flourishes in the region. Chardonnay is capable of producing good yields at high sugar levels, with a peachy, buttery richness attesting to the climate. Instead of being a fast developing wine, in this region Chardonnay has the ability to develop complexity and richness with age.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Cabernet Sauvignon grew in importance to the region as the variety become more popular in the 1970s and 1980s. Today virtually all wineries, large and small, produce a style that has ripe, warm, earthy, chocolate-accented flavours.
Map Coordinates: 36° 42' S
Altitude: 130-350 metres (427 - 1148 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1694 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2 ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 250 millimetres (10 inches)
Mean January temperature: 21.2ºC (70ºF)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 40%
Harvest: Early March – early May
Alister Purbrick, Tahbilk, Goulburn Valley, Victoria
Established in 1860, Tahbilk is one of Victoria’s most beautiful and historic properties. Located in the Nagambie Lakes subregion of the Goulburn Valley, on the banks of the Goulburn River, it is about 100 kilometres north of Melbourne. The Aboriginals called the site “tabilk-tabilk”, meaning “place of many waterholes”.
Tahbilk’s success can be largely attributed to the Purbrick family. Reginald Purbrick purchased the Estate in 1925 then his son Eric took control in 1931. Eric’s son John joined him in 1955 and John’s son Alister, a graduate of the winemaking course at Roseworthy College, took over as winemaker and Chief Executive in 1979. Their combined passion and commitment has seen Tahbilk emerge as one of the great wineries of Victoria.
Alister Purbrick says Tahbilk’s flagship wines are the Rhone varieties of Marsanne and Shiraz and it boasts the world's largest single planting of Marsanne, with its oldest vines established in 1927.
“The “1860 Vines Shiraz” has received many accolades, highlighted by its inclusion in the US Wine & Spirits Magazine 2002 list of "25 Great Vineyards in the World", alongside the likes of Hermitage La Chapelle, Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Chateau Yquem and Krug.
“Our family remains steadfastly committed to preserving our traditions and producing only the finest wines. Today, Tahbilk is the result of an exceptional heritage, which James Halliday described as 'a priceless inheritance'.”