I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Published August 28th 2018
Cool Climate Taste Test
Located less than an hour from Melbourne and with vineyards ranging between 300 and 800 metres above sea level, the Macedon Ranges Wine Region is Australia's premier cool climate wine region producing great pinot noir, excellent chardonnay and a variety of outstanding sparkling wines.
There are more than 40 wineries in the region all of them worthy of a taste test. Here are 5 to get you started.
Mount Towrong Vineyard
Mount Towrong is a small family run vineyard and just a little different to others in the region in that it specialises in producing a range of traditionally grown Italian varieties.
Mount Towrong vineyard sits on the southern slopes of Mount Macedon, less than an hour's drive from Melbourne and within walking distance of Mount Macedon township. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
At 600 metres above sea level, Mount Towrong is a 'cool climate' vineyard with just over 2 hectares under vines but through sourcing quality fruit from other regional growers is able to produce an impressive range of Prosecco, Chardonnay, Garganega, Fiano, Verdicchio, Nebbiolo Rosa, Pinot Noir, Barbera, Lagrein and Nebbiolo.
Mount Towrong Cellar Door is open Saturday and Sunday from 10 AM to 5 PM for tastings, sales and light meals. There's also live music on the first Sunday of each month. The venue is becoming very popular but seating is limited, so you will need to get in early and book. There's ample parking on the property.
Mount Towrong Vineyard is on Mount Macedon, 65 Kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD, about a 50 minute drive via the Calder Freeway/M79.
Once home to Clydesdale working horses Paramoor Farm was transformed into Paramoor Winery in 2005 by husband and wife team Will & Kath Fraser and today the horse's former barn, tack room, stalls and smithy's forge house this much talked about and award-winning wineries cellar door.
With a swag of awards for its range of Riesling, Pino Gris, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz & Merlot and with the plaudits of wine judges and commentators ringing in their ears Paramoor Winery is a 'must visit' attraction for anyone who appreciates a great drop.
A tasting in Paramoors rustic old barn is a unique experience surrounded by an amazing collection of memorabilia. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
It's even caught the eye of prestigious wine judge James Halliday who cites Paramoor as "an excellent producer of very high-quality wines" and judges several to be among the best in Australia.
Will Fraser's philosophy has always been to favour quality over quantity and with this in mind, he hand selects grapes from both his own vines and a wide selection of growers throughout Central Victoria to produce a range of great wines at reasonable prices.
Paramoor's Cellar Door, with its array of horse-drawn implements & accoutrements, the blacksmiths forge and countless other rural curiosities is open Friday to Monday 10 AM to 5 PM or at other times by appointment. To sit and sample award-winning wines surrounded by this collection of memorabilia is a great experience and talking point.
Paramoor Winery is set in the heart of the Macedon Ranges, an easy 1 ¼ hour drive from Melbourne via the Calder Freeway.
Hanging Rock Winery was established in 1983 by John & Ann Ellis who set out to make Australia's first traditional method, cool climate sparkling wine.
Just an hour's drive from Melbourne the Newham property is overlooked by both Mount Macedon and Hanging Rock and is located just 3 Kilometres from its iconic namesake.
Hanging Rock Winery is just 3 Kilometres from its iconic namesake and just a short distance away from Mount Macedon. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Hanging Rock sources its grapes predominantly from the Macedon Ranges and Heathcote districts but frequently goes farther afield bringing in fruit that allows them to offer a wider range of wines.
As well as its signature sparkling varieties Hanging Rock Winery produces Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Shiraz, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Gewurztraminer.
The Cellar Door is open 7 days a week except Good Friday and Christmas Day between 10 AM and 5 PM.
Hanging Rock Winery is 79 kilometres northwest of Melbourne, just over an hour's drive via the Calder Freeway/M79 and the C324.
Gisborne Peak Winery has been popular for years attracting visitors to the relaxed and welcoming atmosphere of its Cellar Door and a tempting selection of quality wines and light meals served on the open-air deck or, in cooler times, inside by the fire or in the heated marquee.
The first vines were planted here in 1978 and by 2014 Gisborne Peak had been nominated as one of the Top-10 Cellar Doors in Victoria by the prestigious AGE Good Food Guide and followed that with a Gold Medal for their 2009 Riesling and Top-4 placings for two of their Chardonnays.
The closest of the Macedon Ranges wineries to Melbourne Gisborne Peak is on the slopes of Mount Gisborne. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Gisborne Peak produces wooded, unwooded and Sparkling Chardonnay, Allegro, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sparkling Pinot, Shiraz and Muscat using both its own grapes and others from as far afield as the Barossa Valley.
The Cellar Door is open from 11 AM 7 days a week except for Good Friday and Christmas Day.
Just a little bit off the beaten track Gisborne Peak Winery is 53 Kilometres northwest of Melbourne, about a 50-minute drive via the Calder Freeway/M79 and Couangalt Road.
Granite Hills Wines punches well above its weight having taken more than 500 awards in Australian and International wine competitions, trailblazing viticulture in Australia's coolest wine region.
Granite Hills Wines is located in the boulder strewn hills on the Burke & Wills Track between Lancefield and Heathcote. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
By the late 1960's, farmers Gordan and Heather Knight could see the writing on the wall. Declining prices for sheep could well spell the end of life as they knew it on their Baynton property and prompted Gordon to sell off about half of his land and invest in a vineyard, with trial plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, and Riesling undertaken in 1970.
The couple survived the worst Locust plague in local history in 1973 and today Granite Hills produces a wide range of product under 3 labels, TOR, Granite Hills and Nardoo.
Varieties include Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Blanc to name just a few and has a long, long list of awards.
To quote James Halliday, "After a quiet period in the 1990's Granite Hills has been reinvigorated, with its original two icons once again to the fore. The Rieslings age superbly and the Shiraz is at the forefront of the cool-climate school in Australia". Strong praise indeed.
The Cellar Door is open daily from 11 AM to 6 PM.
Granite Hills Wines is at Baynton, 90 Kilometres north of Melbourne and about a 90 minute drive via the M2, C7643, C325 and the Burke & Wills Track.
The upcoming Macedon Ranges Wine and Food Festival will be held over the weekend of 16th to 18th November, showcasing the regions great wines & produce and providing the perfect excuse to spend time in one of Australia's premier wine producing regions, Victoria's fabulous Macedon Ranges – just an hour's drive north of Melbourne.