When we’re not behind the Cellar Door, we love going on food adventures in our region! Winemaker Rowly was even featured in a Delicious magazine article last year, talking about some of our favourite Rutherglen haunts (click through the image gallery to read the article).
But wait, there's more! If you haven’t already checked out these new-ish spots below, we recommend adding them to your next North East Vic itinerary.
CELLAR DOORS & DISTILLERIES
James & Co Wines Cellar Door in Rutherglen
James & Co Wines (Rutherglen)
The super lovely and talented Ricky and Georgie of James & Co. Wines have opened a Cellar Door in the Main Street of Rutherglen. It’s a welcoming, contemporary space and we must say we’re just a touch partial to their new Sparkling Rosé! Drop in for a tasting or a glass of wine and a choose-your-own-adventure cheese and charcuterie board.
Rutherglen Estates Cellar Door & Gallery (Rutherglen)
These are exciting times for wine and art lovers in Rutherglen! Rutherglen Estates has a brand spanking new Cellar Door and Aboriginal Exhibitions Gallery in their iconic 1880s winery complex. The project was a collaboration between the winery and major Aboriginal arts collector Hans Sip, and the result is beautiful.
Andrew Buller Wines (Rutherglen)
Another of Rutherglen’s newest boutique wineries is Andrew Buller Wines at the historic Cannobie Estate, owned and operated by third-gen winemaker Andrew Buller. Taste their range of sparkling, whites, reds and fortifieds made from estate-grown fruit at their Cellar Door set among majestic shade trees.
Reed & Co Distillery (Bright)
Rachel Reed and Hamish Nugent (formerly of hatted restaurant Tani Eat & Drink) have opened an artisan gin distillery in Bright, where they make Remedy Gin (a dry gin influenced by their landscape, flavoured with mountain pepper, eucalyptus and fresh pine needles, among other botanicals). While you're there enjoy Victorian meats cooked over the grill and other seasonally-inspired food from their custom-built oven. Local coffee roasters Sixpence Coffee operate from the same space.
Brunch at Beechworth's Press Room Wine Bar
Zest Studio (Rutherglen)
This main street cake and dessert studio has expanded their menu offering to include a wider selection of savoury and sweet breakfast and lunch items to enjoy in the shop, main street courtyard or takeaway. Be warned their croissants are slightly addictive!
Lake Moodemere Estate (Rutherglen)
Not new as such but a summer favourite for the lakeside vantage point and lovely hosts Belinda and Michael Chambers! Go for lip-smacking estate-grown lamb (we can't go past it!), casual platters and the majestic location. The seasonal menu also features their own heritage citrus, honey and free-range eggs.
St Leonards Vineyard (Rutherglen)
St Leonards’ café is now open every weekend with a delicious menu designed by Terrace Restaurant chef Simon Arkless. We love the relaxed vineyard setting down by the Murray River.
Press Room Wine Bar (Beechworth)
As well as their popular evening tapas, Press Room is now offering a brunch menu, packed with regional produce and regionally roasted Honeybird Coffee! Grab a streetside perch.
Republic Cafe at the Old Beechworth Gaol (Beechworth)
A community consortium purchased the Old Beechworth Gaol in 2016 and a new café has opened in the front courtyard, serving regionally roasted Sixpence coffee, a selection of cakes and simple lunch options from a 1967 Airstream Caravan. Time your visit with a morning tour of this fascinating piece of history.
As a light and fresh style of Muscat, we serve Scion's Muscat Nouveau chilled.
Our Muscat is also great mixed in cocktails. Here are some recipes you might like to try at home with our Muscat Nouveau (or Rose Muscat from previous vintages would also do the trick).
SCION MUSCAT SPRITZ
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!
90ml Scion Muscat Nouveau per serve
Play with a ratio of 90ml Prosecco to 60ml Muscat Nouveau to 30ml soda water. The rose water flavours linger beautifully in the background!
SCION MUSCAT & STRAWBERRY FIZZ
With some beautiful strawberry farms on our doorstep in North East Victoria, we were inspired by the classic combination of rose water and strawberry for this cocktail. It's easiest to make this cocktail as a batch - this recipe makes about 6 cocktails.
1 x 500ml bottle of Scion Muscat Nouveau
2 tsp caster sugar
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 splash 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
If you’re planning a trip to Rutherglen soon, here are some boutique accommodation spots we love!
MOUNT OPHIR ESTATE
A short drive out of town, Mount Ophir Estate was established in 1891 as a winery and farm. Its iconic buildings are being lovingly restored into accommodation and private event spaces by the Brown siblings (All Saints Estate & St Leonards Vineyard).
There are six accommodation options on the estate, with five now bookable.
Fancy staying in a luxury French provincial tower and immersing yourself in a unique architectural landmark in Australian winemaking history? Originally built in 1903, the recently renovated Tower is the perfect indulgence for couples visiting Rutherglen.
The Pickers Cottage
Built for the original workers on the estate, this large cottage can sleep twenty people comfortably. The house has six bedrooms and six ensuites, as well as a large living area and new kitchen.
The original estate homestead enjoys views across the stunning Rutherglen plains and features a fully equipped country 'entertainers' kitchen, large lounge and dining room. The house accommodates up to ten people in five bedrooms.
The Winemakers Cottage
An intimate and cosy cottage with a loft bedroom and views looking out onto the orchard.
A four-bedroom townhouse with stylish interiors situated on the southern side of the estate.
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.
Located a short drive from Rutherglen in Corowa, this luxury boutique hotel and day spa is housed within the historic art deco environs of the former Rural Bank of NSW. There are three luxurious suites featuring designer furniture and art pieces, super attentive service in a relaxed and refined atmosphere PLUS a luxurious Asian-inspired day spa. Guests have a spa credit included in their tariff but non-guests can also book treatments.
Find out more about Circa 1936.
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! Provisions for a cooked and continental breakfast with estate-grown and made preserves are included. Super lovely owners Belinda & Michael Chambers also rear their own lambs, so make sure to leave space to enjoy the lamb lunch special at their on-site cafe!
LA MAISON ST ARNAUD
A boutique, traditional B&B in the Rutherglen township with two beautiful suites to choose from. Warm and welcoming host Kellie-Anne cooks a delicious gourmet breakfast for guests. With lovely views out to the ranges from the rear of the property, the house is not far from Main Street amenities. As a bonus, this B&B is pet friendly!
If bed and breakfast accommodation is more your style, then check out Amberesque B&B, hosted by a fun and energetic couple Amber and Shannon! 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!
THE WICKED VILLA
Part of the Wicked Virgin Olives property, The Wicked Villa offers quirky self-contained couple's accommodation in a repurposed 100-year-old Still House. With sweeping views down across the olive grove, the upstairs balcony offers stunning sunsets. A cheese platter and a fridge of breakfast goodies await your arrival.
You can browse more Rutherglen accommodation on region's destination website: www.explorerutherglen.com
I talk about decanting and aerating wine every other day at Cellar Door, so I thought I’d try to shed some light for any wine lovers out there pondering which wines might benefit from these (not-so-fancy) processes and why (or why not!).
But before I waffle on, I think it’s important to emphasise the subjectivity that’s inherent in the enjoyment of wine. We’re all individual and will choose to either decant or aerate, or do both or neither, each time we open a bottle. I say: experiment, try these techniques, have a go! The main thing is to get a feel for the results and add another string to your wine-stained bow!
Isn’t decanting and aerating the same thing? I don’t think so, and here’s the difference.
Aerating is purposefully invigorating wine with air to bring about changes in aroma and flavour.
Decanting is separating clear wine from sediment in the bottle. By default, decanting will do some aerating, but is much gentler in doing so.
Not every wine calls for aerating or decanting, but certain wines can really benefit from these processes.
When first opened, many young wines can appear “tight” or “closed” (and perhaps not like you remembered the wine when you tasted it in a cellar door or enjoyed it on a previous occasion).
Aerating invigorates the wine with oxygen, which helps reveal aroma and flavour. Also expect to see the “hard” characters and “bitey” stuff (often tannin and acidity) soften, taking more of a back-seat to flavour and a softer mouthfeel.
So, which wines?
Expect great results with full-bodied, tannic reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, some Shiraz, Nebbiolo and especially Durif to name a few). By contrast, delicate reds (Pinot Noir, Gamay, etc) may be more easily affected by intense aeration so be a little wary with these wines.
Aerating is pretty much everyday practice for us at home with younger reds (and even the occasional white wine), whereas I avoid aerating old or particularly delicate wines as the process can be too aggressive and what little fruit character remains could be lost if these wines are worked too much.
There are many tools for the job: strange-looking funnels that gargle, pouring devices that are wedged into the bottle mouth, long spears that are inserted into the bottle... all designed with the aim of getting air into your wine; some are better than others.
At Cellar Door, we aerate all of our red wines (Syrah, Durif Viognier & Durif) using our favourite Winebreather carafe before pouring for customers. We love this wine gadget because it aerates the wine while attached to the bottle with minimum spill and fuss. You can aerate over and over in one go, then set the wine aside until you’re ready to drink it either in the carafe or back in the bottle.
In the case of older red wines and vintage port styles, many of these throw sediment as they age. This is common and all part of the journey of ageing! Decanting separates clear wine from sediment, which if allowed to remain makes the wine taste more astringent and appear cloudy, not to mention the unpleasant mouthfeel.
Let the wine stand on your bench for at least a good few hours. Ahead of your fancy dinner party or other occasion, carefully open the bottle without jiggling it up, and in one motion, pour into a vessel slowly while monitoring wine clarity using a torch/candle/mobile phone camera-light as it shines through the neck of the wine bottle from below. Pour slowly and carefully to ensure the sediment stays in the bottle and doesn’t end up in your glass – you only get one go at this! When you begin to see a trail of fine sediment, stop pouring! This generally leaves 30-60ml of wine in the bottle along with the sediment. Through decanting you are also beginning to aerate the wine, but very gently.
If you don’t have a decanter at home, a clean vase, stockpot or any other wide or shallow vessel will also do the job for a one-way decant. For a special wine / occasion, you may wish to decant a few hours before enjoying.
Phew! Hope this helps you wine lovers out there.
Our signature semi-sweet fortified Durif - After Dark - belongs with all kinds of dark chocolate desserts. Around 70% cacao is ideal to contrast with the wine's sweetness.
Need some inspiration? We've compiled a list of flavours & ingredients we've found pair well with this wine style. We'd love to hear of any great food / recipe matches you discover when enjoying our wines, so drop us a line on email or social media.
AFTER DARK GOES WITH...
Fruits (& vege)
raspberries, red currants & other red berries
smoked or spiced nuts
RECIPE: THE BEST BROWNIE OF ALL TIME
We've always been a little underwhelmed by brownies... they promise so much but are often a touch too dry, a touch too sweet, a touch too fudgy... that is, until our friend Naomi delivered a freshly baked brownie slab on the arrival of our baby girl. Rich, textural and satisfying all in one chocolatey mouthful.
This recipe is by Poh, who shared the same sentiment until she tried her friend Priyant's brownies. As had our friend Naomi, until she tried Poh's. As had we, until we tried Naomi's. So we're passing this goodie down the line to you!
If matching with our After Dark, you could definitely have a play with some warm spices in your brownie mix. The controlled tannins in the wine can handle a bit of chilli!
Or keep things super simple and grab a block of artisan dark chocolate. In our neck of the woods, check out Bright Chocolate's single-origin craft chocolate or Renaissance Chocolates who use Belgian Couverture.
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:
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.