Beechworth has been called the younger sibling of the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsular. Located in the north-east of Victoria, the region sits comfortably between the Rutherglen wine region and the Alpine Valleys. The Beechworth wine region produces some of Victoria’s most prestigious wines, and the town itself is full of history and immersive activities. Beechworth wineries are known for their excellent cellar door experiences and wine tours; you’d be mad not to check out this pearl of paradise.
The Wine Varieties and Wine Region
Its altitude impacts the climate in Victoria’s north-east, and Beechworth is no exception. The region lies in the foothills and valleys of the Victorian Alpine region. The difference in altitude between wineries gives the viticulture an altogether diversity in taste and experience. Having a glass of wine from two neighbouring vineyards may compare to drinking two glasses of wine thousands of miles apart. This unique characteristic in wine-growing makes a wine trip to this region a pass the parcel of a holiday.
The cool climate brings forth a refreshing acidity to the wine mixed with high-quality growth of vines dating back to the early 19th century. The area has quite a traditional percentage of wine production with the exception of a tiny percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grown in the area quite uncommon for a wine region in Victoria.
Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are successfully grown in the higher altitudes of the region. The Chardonnay is known for its significant complexities and mature character. Specific wine-making techniques contribute to its renown, including the use of wild yeast in the early fermentation stage. As the yeast eats the natural sugars in the wine it converts them to alcohol, the use of ‘wild yeast’ allows for that rare flavour and maturity.
While such grape varieties dominate the higher parts of the region, Shiraz and Syrah clamber down into the lower foothills where the temperature doesn’t fluctuate as much.
The ground on which the vines stand is predominantly made of granite soils due to the Victorian Alps standing proudly nearby. While the granite soil allows for good drainage, smaller pockets of clay ensure just the right amount of water retention to avoid expensive irrigation throughout the area. While the earth is high in minerals, it is low in fertility, which means low yield but high quality.
The Top 5 wineries in Beechworth
Indigo almost appears as a mirage as you approach the destination. The oasis of green vines sits amongst the bushlands between Beechworth and Wangaratta just a stone’s throw away from the Victorian Alps. The estate sits across 46 hectares on which 11 grape varieties are grown, most famous for their Chardonnays, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Indigo estate was once a hot spot for the gold rush with over 100 tons found in the area. The historical vineyard has 32 old heritage-listed buildings, each fascinating with their own slice of history and story to tell.
Indigo offers a range of different experiences. From their wine tour tastings, their wine trail lunch, or the Indigo Mountainbike Trail to the secret vineyard.
With gourmet platters on offer and delicious wine frivolously on pour, it’s quite easy to spend a day or two meandering through the Indigo Vineyard.
4.6 ⭐️ Google Review
4.5 ⭐️ Trip Advisor
Eldorado, the city of gold; although the gold has now dried up, this cellar door is still thriving. Eldorado Road – Cantina is located in the bustling heart of Beechworth; they opened their doors in 2015 and have been showcasing the elegance of Eldorado Wines ever since.
The cellar door has won some worthy awards including, the Gourmet Traveller star cellar door award in 2017 and again in 2018 with the small cellar door award. The establishment does free wine tour tastings and offers a creative seasonal menu using nothing but fresh local produce. Kick your feet up in the comfortable shady courtyard, whilst experiencing the fruit of their toils.
Make sure you purchase a glass (or a bottle) of the exquisite 2019 Eldorado Road Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in two different locations and at two differing altitudes. 70 % is at 550 m, and 30 % is at 400 m. The 70 % brings a lot of that fresh fruity acidity, pure in minerals and elegance and the other 30 % brings a unique funk to the table, giving this delicious wine a quirky profile.
4.8 ⭐️ Google Review
5.0 ⭐️ Trip Advisor
Pennyweight Winery is an institution for environmental practices and organic/biodynamic viticulture.
The Morris family have been doing this for a long time now, and they know the secret in maximising the vineyard’s full potential. The winemakers idealise taking care of the land and avoiding any practices that interfere with the natural process of making wine. Pennyweight believes that striving towards this philosophy defines who they are and constructs their identity.
The winery is located just outside of Beechworth. The name Pennyweight derives from the Pennyweight Flat goldfields that the estate looks over, they were discovered around 1852 at the time of the gold rush.
The onsite cellar door showcases the great white and red table wines and fortifieds on offer. The Pennyweight Gold, which is a fantastic fortified wine made from well-ripened and rich white grapes, is barrel-aged for seven years in old oak, and it is fortified with brandy spirit. The Gold is also great served with tonic and a slice of lemon and we highly recommend having a dip.
4.5 ⭐️ Trip Advisor
4.1 ⭐️ Google Review
Baarmutha is a small family-owned vineyard on the outskirts of Beechworth. The vineyard is young having planted their fist vines of Reisling, Chardonnay, Shiraz and Sagrantino in 2006.
The Estate is a sight for sore eyes; you can see the old farmhouse sitting on the hill in the distance as you follow the golden dusty road past dams, windmills, trees and vines. It really sets the vibe on what you’re about to experience.
At Baarmuth the process of the harvest is so sacred and special to them it is treated almost as a ritual. At the start of the harvest family and friends gather at the estate and hand-select the grapes, this is followed by a few glasses of celebration from the previous harvest. The love and passion for wine, show how much the winemakers at Barrmutha care for the industry and craft.
5.0 ⭐️ Google Review
N/A ⭐️ Trip Advisor
Brett and Liz Barnes collectively have so much experience and understanding of wine, and it quite obviously shines through their product.
Star Lane has received some worthy accolades including the 2018 Best Cellar Door Experience and the 5-star rating from James Halliday’s 2015 Wine Companion.
Star Lane isn’t just another winery; they are revolutionising the way that Australian Vignerons ( people that cultivate grapes) and winemakers think and work. Star Lane holds claim to making the first Shiraz that’s barrel-aged in Red Gum wood. The use of Australian element evokes the patriotism for Australian cultural identity and respect for the land and custodians.
The climatic position and altitude of 450 meters bring forth mountain breezes as well as all-day sun, creating a yin and yang for wine growing. Architecturally, the estate is mesmerising and modern. The tasting room is varnished and elegant and you’re bound to learn a thing or two from the extensive wine tour tasting on offer.
5.0 ⭐️ Google Review
4.5 ⭐️ Trip Advisor
Things to do in Beechworth
Given the plethora of incredible wineries to visit, you may not have time/want to do anything else. But then again too much of a good thing can prove to be counter-effective, so why not break it up with a bushwalk?
This glorious nature walk is located in the Chiltern – Mt Pilot National Park, but nature isn’t the only thing you’ll find in the area, this hike is filled with hundreds of years of history. Woolshed Falls was once one of the richest goldfields in Australia. During the gold rush in the mid-1800s, up to 8000 prospectors at a time would camp along the riverbank working long hours during the day in means to find their fortune.
Be sure to pack a lunch as it’s a 2-hour return walk and perhaps your swimsuit and a towel, it would be rude not to have a dip in the calm waters of the Woolshed falls ( you might even find your own small fortune).
The culinary institution claims to be “Australia’s Best Bakery”, and the general public agrees. Famous for their pies including the ‘Ned Kelly’ – a hearty steak pie topped with bacon, chess and a whole egg on top, not sure why it’s called the Ned Kelly, but it’s a cool name and its bloody delicious.
While you’ve got his famous pie in hand, you may as well check out his memorial: Ned Kelly, the most famous and notorious bushranger in Australia. The exhibition includes artifact like the mask he wore at the hanging, his gun named ‘betty’ and the suit of armour that Mick Jagger wore in the 70s Ned Kelly film.
The town of Beechworth is so interesting, piled on years of history and culture. There are some great bed and breakfasts to stay at while you roam around the old streets and venture out into the vast wine country.