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Road to Red: do winter in the Pyrenees

Eat & Drink

With hearty pot pies and woodfired pizza on the menu, winter is the time for red wine to shine.

And if you hit the road west of Ballarat, you’ll come across what is one of the best red wine destinations in Victoria.

The Pyrenees is dominated by rugged and beautiful peaks that soar up to 750m, with the foothills and flats below proving to be perfect for growing grapes and making wine since the first vine was planted in 1858.

Today, there are over 20 wineries in the region and the winemakers themselves are often the ones to greet you at the gate.

Full-flavoured reds are the hero drops of the Pyrenees, particularly the shiraz and cabernet sauvignon.

Along with award-winning cellar doors and fireside dining, the Pyrenees boasts fern-lined walking trails, charming country villages and off-grid stays in forested surrounds.

These are roads less travelled with plenty of country gems on route.

The plan? Slow down and enjoy delicious local flavours. Make it a real getaway and book an overnight stay, read a book by the fire and get up late.

With the nearest wineries only 30 minutes from the Ballarat CBD, this effortless winter trip will help you feel a world away from the daily grind.

A ROUTE FOR RED WINE LOVERS

Dalwhinnie Wines

The Road to Red touring route is a self-guided food and wine discovery trail through the Pyrenees.

The Six in Six competition will kick off from King’s birthday weekend. Visit six cellar doors in six weeks for your chance to win six cases (36 bottles) of Pyrenees wines.

The scenic circuit takes in Dogrock Winery, Dalwhinnie WinesSummerfield Winery and Wayward Winery, just to name a few.

Cellar doors feature the region’s famous reds and there’s an array of other classic and unique varietals to sample.

Plus, Taltarni VineyardsBlue Pyrenees Estate and Sally’s Paddock (at Redback Winery) will have live music in their cellar doors on selected dates.

FLAVOURS OF THE REGION

Summerfield Winery

Situated within a beautifully restored country hotel dating from the gold rush, stop by Chére restaurant at The Avoca.

Offering a broad range of pub food and international flavours, the drinks list is a proper reflection of the gastropub’s physical place in the world.

The depth and breadth of its local wine selection is second to none. 

In Beaufort, Magnolia Wine Bar offers a sit down dining experience offering the ultimate comfort food. Chef Anjal Joshi is on a quest to revive the art of old-school cooking infused with contemporary culinary methods. 

Speaking of winter comforts, if you want to try making your own mulled wine or mulled gin, be sure to pick up a bottle of smoking bishop syrup from Mrs Baker’s Still House.

You’ll find this female-led micro distillery in the picturesque hamlet of Glenpatrick.

Be sure to try their new shiraz and chocolate gin, made from shiraz grapes grown in the family’s vineyard.

Summerfield Winery owner Mark has extended the cellar door to include a restaurant and grows his own pork and lamb which he butchers himself. Fresh bread and pastries are also baked on site.

You’ll find Mark in the vineyard, making woodfired pizzas or baking in the kitchen, but he will always find time to talk to visitors about his wines.

The Springs Hotel in Waubra is known for its country hospitality and top notch pub meals.

Also in Waubra, Wayward Winery is the closest Pyrenees winery to Ballarat. With a woodfired oven taking centre stage in the kitchen, the menu is dominated by local produce that’s simply and respectfully prepared.

The cellar door and restaurant has a stunning outlook over the vineyards and the rolling hills of the Pyrenees Ranges beyond.

COSY STAYS

You’ll find unique stays in the Pyrenees, often family-owned and operated, that embrace the region’s warm hospitality and stunning rural landscapes.

If a roaring fire and deep bubble bath are on the cards, try the evocative The Glut Farm

This luxury farm stay can accommodate up to seven people, with an outdoor woodfire oven for the ultimate pizza night. 

Just beyond Avoca, hike up the rugged hillside behind Peerick Winery to one of three off-grid Unyoked cabins.

Each cabin has a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and the undisrupted views of the winter skies are perfect for stargazing and astrophotography.

For more quirky stays, head to Pyrenees Tiny House and Glamping at Bung Bong, or Mooramong Estate, which offers three tiny cabins on a National Trust listed property near Skipton.

Pyrenees Tiny House and Glamping Tents

DROP IN ON THE NEIGHBOURS

If you’re returning from a western road trip and still have space to top up your winter wine collection, don’t miss these cellar doors between Ballarat and the Pyrenees.

Located 25 minutes north-west of Ballarat near the village of Learmonth, Eastern Peake produces award-winning range of minimal intervention wines under Eastern Peake and LATTA Vino labels.

The cellar door is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-3pm, with tastings and regional produce boards to share.

If you are on the road from Beaufort, be sure to stop by Michael Unwin Wines in Windemere, 10 minutes west of Ballarat.

With 25 years of experience making wine in Beaufort and Ballarat, Michael Unwin produces varieties to suit all tastes, from the young, easy drinking One Goat wines to sophisticated shiraz under the Tattooed Lady label.

Michael Unwin Wines
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29 May 2024

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Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.

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