Fresh seafood is a treat for us in Rutherglen – the one gift we welcome in the dear arms of visiting friends from Melbourne when they buzz up the Hume Highway. On arrival the vino starts flowing - often a rosé - which works equally well with old friendships as it does shellfish cooked simply.
We love the simplicity of this quick pasta with mussels. Serve with ample Scion Rosé 2017.
Linguini with mussels, tomato & creme fraiche
1.5kg mussels, scrubbed & de-bearded
500g packet of linguini (use as much as you would normally cook to serve 4)
1 cup dry white wine or rosé
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp garlic, finely chopped (or a couple of shallots)
400g can diced tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup creme fraiche
1/3 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
sea salt & black pepper
Rinse the mussels in cool water and discard any with cracked shells. Firmly tap several times on the shells of any open mussels. If they close even a little, they are still alive and can be cooked. If not, discard them.
Cook the pasta in plenty of lightly salted boiling water until just al dente, for 1 minute less than the instructions on the packet.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy-based pot, bring the wine to a rolling boil. Add the mussels, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over high heat until the mussels open (around 3 – 4 minutes), shaking the pot a few times. With a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels to a large bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Strain the mussel juice (avoiding any sediment in the bottom).
Combine oil and garlic in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until garlic turns a pale golden colour. Add tomatoes and stir, then add the strained mussel juice, increase heat and cook until reduced by half.
Stir in the creme fraiche, return to heat and simmer for 1 minute. Season to taste.
Add the pasta to the sauce and toss until heated through. Fold through the parsley, divide the pasta among bowls and top with the mussels.
We asked wine educator and author Clare Burder (The Humble Tumbler & Vintuition) to share her tips on how to get the most out of cellar door visits. And Clare should know: In the last year alone she has visited 11 Australian wine regions, as well as international wine destinations as diverse as Central Otago, Napa and Stellenbosch. Check out Clare’s hot tips below...
Cellar Doors are a magnificent tradition in Australia, which might be considered the windows to the soul of any wine region. It’s a privilege to be able to visit a producer and taste their wines, meet the people and experience their winemaking approach and way of life. There are more than 1,200 cellar doors in Australia, so there’s almost no end to places to visit, and you just never know what gems you’ll discover.
TIP 1: Plan, plan, plan – but leave room for local recommendations!
Before I go I do loads of research, whether it be Gourmet Traveller Wine mag, a social media call-out for recommendations or other peer review sites like TripAdvisor. When I arrive in a wine region, my general approach is to start at a notable cellar door and then ask them for the local gems – I find that a personal recommendation is worth more than any guide. Secondly, I generally aim for three to five venues per day, maximum – being in a hurry defeats the purpose; I’d much prefer to amble along with the locals and enjoy the scenery.
TIP 2: Make appointments
Some of the most incredible experiences I’ve had have been at wineries that only open by appointment. This enables you to get up close to the producer, giving you a richer experience and time to really explore their wines and their approach to winemaking. In recognition of this generosity of time, I personally think there is an (unspoken) obligation to buy when you’ve made an appointment – even if it’s just a bottle to show to your appreciation.
TIP 3: It can pay to pay
Many producers now offer both a free tasting and a paid option. I always try the paid option as it’s almost guaranteed to be something memorable – whether it be older releases, some inventive food or cheese matching, or just the chance to taste the premium range.
TIP 4: Ask questions!
All of those things you’ve always wondered about wine can probably be explained at the cellar door, so go forth and ask all the questions. It is, after all, the point of visiting a winery… you never know what you might learn – and most cellar door staff love questions and conversation!
And a few more things:
Well hellooooo! The cool nights and blue-sky days of autumn proper have arrived - simply one of the best seasons to visit our region. We've picked some of our favourite events from the upcoming High Country Harvest program (5 - 21 May), all within 45 minutes’ drive of Rutherglen or less.
Click on the event title below for more info, or browse the full program at www.highcountryharvest.com.au
Tweed Ride (Rutherglen) – Saturday 6 May
Rutherglen’s Tweed Ride has developed quite the following, with this year’s leisurely tweed-clad cycling adventure featuring three new food and wine experiences. Stops include the new Andrew Buller Wines, Cofield Wines and Rutherglen Estates. Don’t forget your vintage attire!
Image credit: Georgie James Photography
Food for Thought (Yackandandah) – Saturday 6 May
We love Saint Monday’s ethos, which will be celebrated at this ethical, plant-based, candlelit no-waste feast. Oh, and did we mention, their feel-good food is super delicious? (Here's a little bit more about Saint Monday over on our Eating out around Rutherglen blog post.)
Image credit: Saint Monday
Smokin’ Hot Stanley (Stanley) – Sunday 7 May
Just beyond Beechworth, Stanley is a small village surrounded by apple orchards and nut groves in their autumn prime, and is now home to two exciting new farm-to-plate movers and shakers – Black Barn Farm and Garden State. Join them for an abundant feast of lip-smacking local fare, basted, smoked, slow-cooked and flame-grilled over four open fires.
New Breed Feast (Chiltern) – Saturday 20 May
This delicious lunch event features some of our favourite friends of food, wine and creative pursuits! Winemakers Ricky James and Simon Killeen, photographer Georgie James, and Pinchos Catering! To be honest, they had us at succulent spit-roasted heritage roast pork.
Image credit: Georgie James Photography
Taste Trekkers Gourmet Time Travel (Beechworth) – Saturday 20 May
Curated by gregarious local foodie Sally Lynch, this lantern-lit roving feast around Beechworth brings together some of the town’s tastiest mouthfuls with historical backdrops including the grand gold-rush era bank setting of Provenance restaurant, the old gaol and Tanswell’s cellar.
The Art of Cheese (Tarrawingee) – Friday 19, Saturday 20 & Sunday 21 May
In our book, goats cheese can add that something-something to so many meals and a beautiful hand-crafted piece of goats cheese is pure joy! If you’re reading from the same page, here’s your chance to join the goats of Tolpuddle Farm for an immersive pasture-to-plate experience: goat milking, hands-on cheese making and a shared lunch in the garden with passionate producers Melissa and Donovan.
Image credit: Tolpuddle Cheese
Harvest menu at Lake Moodemere Estate (Rutherglen) – 5 - 21 May
Lake Moodemere’s Cellar Door is a majestic location overlooking the lake. The Chambers family raise their own lambs as well as growing grapes on the estate. Check out their special harvest menu during High Country Harvest, featuring lip-smacking Moodemere Lamb and other delicious morsels by the open fire.
Ciao Biscotti (Rutherglen) – Sunday 7 & 21 May
One of Rutherglen’s lovely B&B hosts, Kellie-Anne (and sometime-grape picker during vintage at Scion!), is hosting intimate hands-on biscotti-making workshops with afternoon tea (of course matched with local wines). Open to both B&B guests and visitors.
Followers of Scion have been introduced to a series of ‘project’ wines over the years. The resulting wines form a vital part of winemaker Rowly's passion and learnings.
The latest project ‘PRC’ was dreamt up with two great wine mates of the North East – Chris Catlow (Sentio, Beechworth) and Pete Graham (Domenica, Beechworth) – to challenge winemaking skills while working together to achieve a focused result. This Chardonnay is the inaugural PRC release, co-crafted by Pete, Rowly and Chris.
Fruit was sourced from one of the country’s most revered plantings of chardonnay: the Lusatia Park Vineyard in Victoria's Yarra Valley. One parcel of handpicked fruit was divided three ways, with each winemaker setting out to craft a wine shaped around their individual interpretation of the fruit.
A code of silence kicked off production across three wineries, using one second-fill hogshead barrel and five pre-loved barriques. Nine months later, the trio sat down with samples of the resulting six wines to assemble the final wine together. Minor blending tweaks were made with the aim of best expressing the Lusatia Park Vineyard.
The vineyard produces elegant Chardonnay, with the 2016 vintage showing excellent concentration of flavour. From this premium fruit we’ve crafted a focused, modern Chardonnay that would benefit from a little cellaring. Only 110 dozen produced. We hope you like it as much as we enjoyed making it!
The PRC Chardonnay 2016 is available now in our online shop.
Vintage at Scion is off to a (wonderfully) slow start! Thanks to a wet winter/spring, cool nights and only a handful of really hot days, vintage is very slowly unfolding. This generally makes for excellent sugar/flavour balance in harvested fruit. With additional ‘hang time’ for grapes on the vine, we're expecting good complexity and flavour intensity. Our bird nets are on, vines have a generous leaf canopy and are well set-up for the long haul.
This season reminds us of 2006, which saw Durif harvested in early April and just so happens to be one of my favourite wines. Being a full 25 days behind the harvest of 2016, we have only hand-picked Orange Muscat so far. This fruit is showing vibrant citrus characters along with hallmark orange blossom aroma.
Cheers from Winemaker Rowly!
As a light and fresh style of Muscat, we serve Scion's Muscat Nouveau chilled.
In summer, a muscat-based cocktail really hits the spot. Here are two recipes you might like to try at home with our Muscat Nouveau (or Rose Muscat from previous vintages would also do the trick).
MUSCAT NOUVEAU SPRITZER
The beauty of this cocktail is its simplicity, which means the varietal flavours of the Muscat still shine through. The lime's acidity cuts through the natural sweetness. Refreshing!
60ml Scion Muscat Nouveau (or 90ml Rose Muscat)
Monster Kitchen & Bar at Canberra's Hotel Hotel kindly supplied this recipe, which their bartender created for a Rutherglen Muscat Mixology event at their venue. If you don't have any apricot liqueur hanging around in your cupboard, we suggest just adding an extra 20ml of Muscat Nouveau.
30ml Scion Muscat Nouveau
20ml apricot liqueur (Monster recommends Vedrenne brand)
15ml freshly pressed lemon juice
prosecco for topping up
basil sprig for garnish
Photo credit: Kerrie Brewer (Her Canberra)
Some great accommodation options have popped up around Rutherglen recently. If you’re planning a trip up our way soon, here are some unique places to stay. Be sure to book early as these properties do book well in advance for weekend stays. Or consider a mid-week visit!
We love our bush camping, but this new glamping experience on site at Cofield Wines sounds like a beautiful way to experience a working vineyard in a picturesque rural setting. Choose from two bell tents fully furnished with king size beds. The experience is a partnership with The Pickled Sisters Café, so you can expect delicious breakfast hampers and optional dinner hampers/platters as part of your stay.
Photo credit: @departmentofwandering
Find out more about Grapevine Glamping.
If hosted accommodation is more your style, then check out Amberesque B&B. A fun and energetic couple Amber and Shannon took over this luxury bed and breakfast in Main Street (formerly known as Bank on Main) about 8 months ago. They’ve put their own touches on the historic property and Amber has a passion for cooking, with a repertoire that extends from French to Spanish to Melanesian! Prime location next door to our favourite wine bar, Thousand Pound, too!
MOODEMERE LAKE HOUSE
Situated on Lake Moodemere Estate, a working vineyard and farm, this self-contained guest house has uninterrupted, private views of Lake Moodemere. Abundant bird species and native wildlife are regular visitors to the property, and the sunsets are incredible (see below image by local photographer Ann Killeen)! Provisions for a cooked and continental breakfast with estate-grown and made preserves are included.
Located opposite All Saints Estate in Wahgunyah is a newly refurbished self-contained cottage. The interior is fresh and contemporary, and sleeps 6 with two queen and two single beds. A cosy wood fire and bottle of wine on arrival should help you settle in! You’ll find this cottage on AirBnB.
You can browse more Rutherglen accommodation on region's destination website: www.rutherglenvic.com