Nowhere in Victoria is the link between gold and wine more pronounced than in the 1.6 kilometres (one mile) of underground drives that run through Seppelt's Great Western. These drives were excavated by hand by unemployed miners after the gold rush was over in the 19th century.
Vineyards were first planted in 1867 and included grape varieties so rare that several have defied all attempts at identification and are, in all probability, the sole surviving examples in the world. Just two hours' drive west from Melbourne, the region offers a diverse range of activities for tourists and the wine enthusiast. This is primarily a red wine area, producing wines with a rare combination of elegance and power and an exceptional capacity to age.
The cellar doors range from state-of-the-art and architect-designed to historical buildings rich with the traditions of a winemaking past. These strong traditions are carried today by a new breed of highly skilled and enthusiastic winemakers whose efforts respect the legacy of pioneers such as Hans Irvine and legends such as Colin Preece.
The landscape of the Grampians wine region is renowned for its natural beauty.
Vineyards were first planted in 1867.
The region is currently home to around 15 wineries.
These strong traditions are carried today by a new breed of highly skilled and enthusiastic winemakers.
Power with elegance in varieties such as Shiraz, Riesling, Chardonnay and Cabernet.
The climate of the region is Mediterranean and the proximity to the Southern Ocean (between 100 -200 kilometres) provides a cooling influence during summer. Recognised as a cooler climate grape growing region, the growing season in summer is characterised by warm to hot days and cool to cold nights. Autumn is mild and reliably produces the most pleasant weather, perfect for ripening grape. The region is especially well suited to later ripening red varieties, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
There are two principal soil types. The first includes quite acidic grey and grey-brown loamy sands and clay loam soils; the second comprises a hard yellow soil with structured clay subsoils, which is also quite acidic and requires lime adjustment. None of these soils is especially fertile and unless the pH is significantly increased with the addition of lime and/or gypsum, vine vigour and crop levels will be restricted.
Riesling: The style shows tropical lime juice aroma and flavour in the warmer years, with reserved, toasty wines in the cooler vintages.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Often blended with Shiraz (and other varieties), Cabernet Sauvignon performs well in adverse conditions. Blackcurrant, blackberry and even raspberry flavours dominate without threatening the elegant style of the wine.
Shiraz: The style ranges from silky smooth wines with red cherry and plum flavours through to strikingly concentrated wines, redolent with spice, pepper, liquorice and game. There is a common thread to these wines in their elegance and fine tannins, no doubt deriving from the cool conditions under which the grapes have ripened.
Map Coordinates: 37°09'S
Altitude: 240-440 metres (787-1444 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1460 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2 ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 240 millimetres (9.4 inches)
Mean January temperature: 20.2°C (68.3°F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 45%
Harvest: Mid March - mid May
Douglas Green, General Manager, Best's Wines, Great Western, Victoria
The Grampians region is one of the oldest continuously producing wine districts in Australia, dating back to the gold rush of the 1850s. With marginal soil, marginal rainfall, cold winters and warm summers, the region does not readily yield its bounty. It is a testament to the dedication and tenacity of the vignerons and winemakers that the local industry still exists, but the suitability of this environment has been reinforced by more recent plantings of large and small vineyards.
Douglas Green from Best’s Wines says the winery was founded in 1866 by Henry Best and the vineyard plantings and later established winery at Concongella have produced wine ever since.
“Over 35 varieties of grapes were planted in the nursery block at Concongella, some of which remain unidentified. It is from these original vines, and with this heritage, that Best's Wines makes its award winning Thomson Family Shiraz and Bin No. 0 Shiraz,” Douglas says.
"It is all of the above that produces wines which reflect the soil and the seasons. The year's hard work is captured in the bottle with classic styles of Shiraz and refined Rieslings that will age well and reward patience."