From pretty Beechworth to the rolling hills of King Valley, Victoria's High Country has long been a wine region rich with generations of winemakers, innovators and producers making the most of the area's agricultural wealth.
The High Country is divided into six key areas: Rutherglen, Beechworth, Glenrowan, King Valley, Alpine Valleys and Upper Goulburn.
Picturesque Rutherglen is home to some of Australia's oldest wineries, with a history of making fortified wines and big, bold reds for more than 150 years.
At Scion Wine, vigneron Rowly Milhinch is as passionate about wine as he is about the sustainable practices underpinning his craft. Scion uses solar power to run the winery and cellar door, and have beehives on-site to enhance biodiversity (grab a bottle of their house-made 'Drunk Honey' at the cellar door on your way out). Milhinch's distinctly modern approach to winemaking results in innovative takes on Rutherglen varietals: orange muscat, viognier and durif. Join Rowly for a curated 'Durif Reimagined' experience in the recently completed private tasting room with a flight featuring elegant Durifs, experimental reds and Scion's signature fortified, After Dark.
Over at Pfeiffer Wines, spend the afternoon sipping your way through their fine muscats. The Rutherglen cellar door also runs a tour where visitors can taste muscat straight from the barrel.
James & Co. Wines is one of the region's most renowned small-scale, family-run vineyards. Known for their adventurous range of sangiovese, husband-and-wife winemakers Ricky and Georgie James relish the opportunity to put their best up against benchmark traditional European varieties, and invite their guests to do the same in a wine taste-off.
Stay the night in a piece of High Country history. Mount Ophir Estate was established in 1891 as a farm and vineyard; a French provincial-style tower was lated constructed to house the estate's winemaking facilities. The tower is now home to a luxury accommodation suite, with a spiral staircase that leads to a sitting room on the second floor, and bedroom and marble ensuite on the top floor. Other accommodation options are also available on the property, including stays at its original homestead.
Renowned for its architecture, honey and gold-rush history, Beechworth is also home to some two dozen winemakers making their mark on the mineral rich hills. While close to Rutherglen, its cooler temperature and more fertile soil yields a vastly different wine, with a strong focus on chardonnay. Most of the wines here are produced on a small scale, which means they're only available at cellar doors or the region's restaurants.
Baarmutha offers a highly personalised tasting experience. Grower and winemaker Vinny Webb will pick you up from your accommodation before shuttling you to his winery set in the rolling hills of Beechworth. From here, you'll move between the cellar door and the underground cellar, pulling bungs out (the glass or plastic stopper wedged into the top or side of a barrel) and tasting drops matched with local cheeses and meats.
Call it a day and make the 40-minute drive south-east to Eurobin, where you'll come across Kiln House. Kiln House offers guests three accommodation options, with picture windows that look out to the the lush Ovens Valley high country landscape with views of Mount Buffalo, Feathertop and Bogong.
Drive an hour west to King Valley where vineyards are perched on fertile slopes running down to the King River. These vineyards were established by first-generation migrant Italian families bringing Mediterranean-inspired wines to the Australian glass.
You'll find pinot grigio, arneis, verduzzo, sangiovese, tempranillo and barbera at cellar doors. The King Valley Sangiovese Tour takes you deep into the valley to explore the science behind growing the red Italian grape, guided by winemakers Warren Proft (Chrismont Winery) and Joel Pizzini (Pizzini Winery).
The Alpine Valleys Escape includes a visit to the award-winning Mayford Wines – the winery is not usually open to the public. Here, winemaker Eleana Anderson will lead you through a tasting of their outstanding cool-climate wine varieties.
For organic drops produced from some of the region's oldest vines, head to Glenrowan where Baileys of Glenrowan produces a range of award-winning reds and fortifieds. Onsite, there's a native garden, historic buildings (including the original winery), stables and a blacksmiths' forge. Come for the tastings of their 1920s Block Shiraz, Durif and Founder Series Muscat wines, stay for wood-fired pizza.
Finish your country getaway with an hour's drive south-east and pitt-stop at Ringer Reef in Porepunkah for a family table experience. Join the Holm family on a guided tour of the vineyard and winery, followed by a hosted lunch and a wine tasting. Then it's back to reality.
This article is presented by Feast High Country.
Main image credit: @scionwine