Glenrowan is one of Victoria's most historic wine regions, with production dating back to 1870. Even before Glenrowan was thrust into the annals of folklore by its association with Australia's most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly, Richard Bailey and his family established themselves in the early 1860s on their Bundarra property.
In 1866, Richard's son Varley planted vines on the rich red granite soil beneath the Warby Ranges. His fortified wines were such a success that he quickly expanded the vineyard and in the next 20 years, created a thriving local and export wine business. This picturesque small region comprises 13 growers and seven cellar doors. Though phylloxera devastated the region in the late 1890s and early 1900s, most successful vineyards were quickly replanted with disease-resistant rootstock, and winemaking resumed. The region has a comparable climate to Rutherglen, though it has cooler temperatures in January and is generally wetter year round. The soils on the surrounding ranges are quite fertile and especially suited to vineyards and orchards. Shiraz is the main wine produced in the region, along with delightful fortified wines.
Viticulture commenced in 1870.
The region is currently home to around seven wineries.
Early success came from production of fortified wine.
Glenrowan is renowned as the haunt of infamous bushranger Ned Kelly.
A picturesque region featuring small/medium size producers.
Phylloxera devastated the region in the late 1890s.
Glenrowan enjoys a warm climate similar to nearby Rutherglen.
Soils range from deep red or loamy clay to silty sands.
Principal grape varieties Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Shiraz and fortified wines are the major styles produced.
The climate in Glenrowan is idea – it is undeniably warm – and comparable to nearby Rutherglen, with which it shares a robust style of red and rich fortified wine. It is slightly cooler in January, drier during the growing season and wetter year round, yet has a considerably higher heat degree day summation (1567). The region has low rainfall probability during the ripening period, with cool night temperatures. The consistency of seasons is a real feature, delivering limited vintage variability.
The Warby Ranges are the predominant geological formation in the region. The vineyards on their slopes are established on the well-drained, fertile, deep red clay and loamy clay soils that result from the weathering of granitic material washed down from the ranges. On the ranges themselves, at 400 metres (1,312 feet) elevation, there are also red and yellow duplex soils especially suited to vineyards and orchards. The soil types surrounding nearby Lake Mokoan are dark clays, loams and silty sands.
Shiraz: There are many stories about the Baileys Bundarra Shiraz. The most famous quote was that it was at once “wine, food and a good cigar”. The earthy berry-flavoured Shiraz reds of Glenrowan have been trimmed down somewhat in recent years, but they remain wines of stature and among the bigger Australian Shiraz styles, worthy of cellaring for many years.
Fortifieds: Muscats and Tokays vie with those from the nearby Rutherglen region for primacy among Australia’s dessert wine styles. Some critics emphasis the finesse of the Rutherglen styles, while others prefer the sheer power of those at Glenrowan.
Map Coordinates: 36º 27´S
Altitude: 190 metres (623 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1750 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2 ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 310 millimetres (12.2 inches)
Mean January temperature: 22.2º C (72ºF)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 36%
Harvest: End March - end April
Peter Long, Granite Range Estate, Glenrowan, Victoria
Peter Long’s family tree has borne some interesting fruit, perhaps none more so than his convict great-great-grandfather Isaac, who had his involuntary Tasmanian residency significantly extended after he made off with some wine and cheese to which he was not entitled. And while cheek, guile, and perseverance clearly run deep in the Long gene pool, it seems an appreciation of life’s finer things is never far below the surface.
Peter says his interest in wine has been lifelong. As far back as the 1960s and 1970s, family holidays would see Peter and his wife Maureen take their six children touring South Australia’s wine regions. Yet it was not until 2000, at age 62, that Peter’s wine passion translated into a career.
“I think people spend a lot of time through their 50s planning their retirement and thinking about where they’re going to play golf and what sort of boat they might buy. But I found that once I hit 60, I had to keep going for fear the old adrenaline pump would give out,” Peter says.
So at the end of an extremely successful engineering career, Peter “kept going” and started studying viticulture. More than seven years on, he has his 11 acres of Shiraz and Merlot grapes and the stunning views of the snow-capped mountains of Mt Buffalo, Mt Feathertop and the Bogong High Plains.
“I think we have something very special here and I have no plan to stop anytime soon. People want to deal with the person who owns the business and who makes the wine, whether they’re a restaurateur or someone who’s just driven to my cellar door. We do that. The big boys can hire all the sales reps they want, but they won’t be able to offer people the experience we can.”