Age and glasses of wine should never be counted. Italian proverb.
It’s winter here in Melbourne but, far from hibernating, things seem to be warming up, at least on the wine calendar.
With over 600 cellar doors scattered across 20 wine regions in Victoria, there’s a lot on offer this month.
Barely ten minutes away from my home (an hour from Melbourne CBD) Panton Hill Winery makes you feel like you’ve arrived in Tuscany.
I don’t even need a passport to get there.
Next weekend (16-17 June) this sleepy vineyard and area in Nillumbik wakes up for its annual Winter Winefest. Eleven wineries will open their cellar doors for a weekend of wine, food and entertainment.
Slightly further afield, nestled in the hills of the Yarra Valley, are the acclaimed wineries of De Bortoli, Ferguson’s, Domain Chandon, Tarra Warra, Oakridge Wines and Yering Station, to name just a few.
The site of Yering Station is where the first winery in Victoria was established in 1838. That history is enshrined in the old winery that now serves as the cellar door and gallery.
Reds, whites, sparkling … this cool climate wine country offers something for everyone, in a little slice of food and wine paradise.
However it’s not all about wine. The monthly farmers market held in Yering Station’s historic barn is the oldest farmers’ market in Victoria and is a must if you’re in the area.
There’s also hot air balloon rides, olive groves and art galleries, live music, historic farm stations, day spas and a chocolaterie that makes this a delicious and diverse getaway.
Travel further afield to the beautiful King Valley where the area around Whitfield is synonymous with fine Italian wines and hospitality. Cellar doors beckon with open fires, warming winter reds and feasts of pizza, pasta and porchetta.
I can vouch for peaceful riverside camping at nearby Gentle Annie Caravan Park or you can ditch the camper and book yourself a cosy little Bed and Breakfast.
This weekend (9-11 June) is the Queens Birthday long weekend here in Victoria and Heathcote will host its own three day wine and food festival Heathcoteonshow.
Seems that, regardless of the cold start to winter, it’s a sparkling time to venture out and explore the grape outdoors.
Beyond Victoria, Australia’s wine regions are scattered from the Barossa in South Australia to Margaret River in the West.
So what makes a good wine? Is it age that makes it better?
I’m no pro but, with my Italian heritage, I’ll share what I know.
Years ago dad used to make his own wine in the backyard. He and Sebastiano next door would take down fence pailings to make easy access to walk through the fence, to the barrels and crush the grapes.
These days it’s more civilised but quite honestly, I look back and realise it wasn’t simply about the process of making wine. It was about them having a good time, lots of laughs, friendship and tradition. The end result was not always the be all and end all, thank goodness!
Nowadays what I consider a good wine comes down to personal preference and I don’t crush. I prefer long romantic walks down the wine aisle to choose my wine.
Well, you know what they say … not all who wander are lost … some just take their time to find their wine of choice. I’m not one to rush the important things!
At home I do enjoy the occasional glass of red with my meal.
Mum used to say “il vino fa buon sangue’ (good wine makes good blood) and she wasn’t far wrong.
Doctors agree a glass of red wine is good for the heart.
Whilst laughter is the best medicine I’d like to think a nice bottle of wine is the perfect accompaniment, especially shared with good friends.
Life really is too short to drink bad wine though, of course, it’s all about moderation and balance, isn’t it?
Here’s to getting out and exploring what’s on offer, whether it’s a food and wine event, an art or musical festival or anything that makes us feel good.
Cheers to appreciating the good things in life.
“People who wonder if the glass if half empty or half full miss the point. The glass is refillable.”
Keep enjoying the journey.
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Outanabout YOLO “You only live once”