The Pyrenees, Victoria’s best-kept wine secret

The vines of Warrenmang Vineyard.

The Pyrenees, Victoria’s best-kept wine secret

When you hear Pyrenees, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the French Mountain range. But Victoria has its own version of the Pyrenees, and it’s also pretty awesome. Nestled amongst the rolling hills and pretty little country towns, the Pyrenees produces some of the best cool climate wines in the state.

However, the Pyrenees isn’t overly popular with tourists, and many Victorians have never even heard of it. The overseas crowds tend to visit the more famous Yarra Valley or the Mornington Peninsula, as do most Melbournians. We decided to head to the Pyrenees for some relaxation and nice wines, and that’s exactly what we encountered. Even on a long weekend, we had the area almost all to ourselves. It was a real delight!

The Pyrenees.

The Pyrenees.

Where is the Pyrenees Region?

The Pyrenees wine region is a leisurely two-hour drive from the centre of Melbourne. It’s a lovely drive through the countryside, and once out of the city, you will be driving past endless fields of crops and cattle (and in spring, Canola, which I’ll get to later).

Beautiful countryside.

Beautiful countryside on the way to the Pyrenees.

Wineries of the Pyrenees.

A map of the wineries and small towns of the Pyrenees.

So why should you visit the Pyrenees?

To taste some awesome wines!

It almost goes without saying, given that it’s a wine region, but wine tasting is probably going to be the first thing you tackle. With twenty-two cellar doors in the region, you could be tasting until you drop, literally! Or you can just pick a few. Here are a few of the wineries we loved:

Blue Pyrenees Estate

Established in 1963, the Blue Pyrenees estate is one of the most renowned wineries in the region, producing award-winning wines. The friendly man at the cellar door gave us lots of information about the winery and each of the wines that we tried. We learned that the Blue Pyrenees was established by Remy Martin, the succeeding owner of the French champagne houses Krug and Piper Heidsieck. It probably explains why their sparkling wines are outstanding. Another favourite was their Shiraz. You might want to use the waste bucket if you are planning on tasting their entire range, as they have a lot of wines to try!

So many wines to try!

So many wines to try!

Warrenmang Vineyard

Warrenmang has been owned and run for forty years by the veteran restaurateur and vigneron Luigi Bazzani. We had the pleasure to meet Luigi, during our tasting and he gave us a full explanation of each wine that they had for tasting, as well as some no longer available. He also talked to us about the history of the vineyard, which was highly interesting. You could clearly see the love that he has for his vineyard and his grapes. That passion is clearly reflected in his wines, which are all outstanding. If you visit on a Sunday morning, you can join him on a guided tour of the underground cellar and barrel hall, which is also really interesting.

The cellar door of Warenmang.

The cellar door of Warenmang.

Wine tasting at Warenmang.

Wine tasting at Warenmang.

The Barrel Hall.

The Barrel Hall.

The underground cellar at Warrenmang.

The underground cellar at Warrenmang with an upcoming Shiraz being stored in oak barrels.

While there, you have to try the Black Puma and the Beyond! I don’t normally buy expensive wines because I always end up drinking them too quickly, but even I couldn’t resist buying a bottle each of those two wines!

The Black Puma and Beyond wines.

The Black Puma and Beyond wines.

Sally’s Paddock Redbank Winery

Sally’s Paddock was established in 1973. It has a rustic cellar door and produces a great sparkling wine called the Sasha, and an even nicer Shiraz. Pair either of them with a delicious platter of local cheeses and you’ll be in heaven! They even do great coffees and cakes if you need a break from the wine.

The rustic cellar door at Sally's Paddock.

The rustic cellar door at Sally’s Paddock.

Tasting at Sally's Paddock.

Tasting at Sally’s Paddock.

To visit an old gold mining town, Avoca

Avoca is the heart of the Pyrenees, and it’s the main town in the area.

Although it’s quite small, Avoca is a very interesting town. It’s an old gold mining town, and most of its shopfronts have retained their original facades. If you are interested in the history of the town, pick up a map from the information centre and take a self-guided heritage walk around the town, where you’ll learn about its rich history, and walk past many historic buildings.

Old sign on the Heritage walk.

An old sign on the self-guided heritage walk.

If you are there on the fourth Sunday of the month, be sure to check out the riverside market that is held on the banks of the Avoca River. It’s a great place to buy local wines, fresh vegetables, crafts, and local produce.

Behind the main street is a cute little ornamental Chinese garden that is also worth a quick visit.

The Chinese Garden in Avoca.

The Chinese Garden in Avoca.

It’s stunning in Spring!

As I mentioned earlier, if you happen to visit the Pyrenees in spring, you are in for a treat. One of the highlights of our trip was driving past field after field of Canola plants in bloom. It was a great surprise, because we had never seen them before, and at first we were puzzled as to what those bright yellow flowers were. The entire region was a photographer’s paradise, and we stopped many times to get a shot of those endless yellow fields.

A field of Canola.

A field of Canola.

And it’s not just the canola, there were many wildflowers in bloom as well, on the side of the road, within the vineyards, everywhere. It was a real treat to the eye!

Spring is in the air.

Spring is in the air.

Some wattle in bloom.

Some wattle in bloom.

It’s very close to the Grampians!

The Grampians National Park is not far away, and if you’re all worn out from too much wine tasting, you can easily head there from the Pyrenees for the day. It’s only an hour and a half drive to the northern part of the park. The Grampians offers some amazing hiking, beautiful waterfalls, fantastic mountain scenery, and lots of wildlife spotting.

Hiking in the Grampians.

Hiking in the Grampians.

Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians.

Mackenzie Falls in the Grampians.

Where to eat?

The Avoca Hotel

This beautiful country pub dates from the 1850’s. Recently renovated, it is a multi-award winning restaurant. It serves outstanding food, has an extensive cellar of local wines. and a fantastic range of craft and boutique beers. It’s a wonderful dining experience, but be sure you make a reservation, particularly on weekends.

The Avoca Hotel.

The Avoca Hotel.

Cafe Blue – Blue Pyrenees Winery

After tasting the many wines at the Blue Pyrenees cellar door, walk across to their small cafe and order one of their fantastic tasting plates of local produce. Be sure to pair it with a nice glass of their wine of course!

Our platter at Cafe Blue.

Our platter at Cafe Blue.

Warrenmang Restaurant

After finishing your wine tasting and cellar door tour, why not have lunch at Warrenmang? Set high up on the hill, their restaurant has great views across the vineyard and has a large outside deck area to enjoy the sunshine on a nice day. The restaurant is very rustic and features beautiful axe cut timber beams and a stone fireplace. Why not enjoy a glass of the Grand Pyrenees with your food?

The view from the Warrenmang restaurant.

The view from the Warrenmang restaurant.

Dinner at Warrenmang.

Dinner in the rustic restaurant at Warrenmang.

Where to stay?

We stayed at the Warrenmang Vineyard and Resort, and we loved its rustic feel. The resort offers timber cottages with splendid views of bushland and rolling vines. We would enjoy those views from our own balcony, which was a delight, especially when paired with a glass of Warrenmang’s award-winning wine. It is a tranquil retreat and you won’t want to leave.

The view from our cottage.

The view from our cottage.

The grounds of Warrenmang.

The grounds of Warrenmang.

If you manage to drag yourself away from the wine, go for a sunset stroll around the grounds. You will come across lots of wildlife. Kangaroos are plentiful in the area, and they love to come out for a drink down the dam or to hop around the vines. The cottages are old and rustic, but extremely comfortable. And of course, you can always enjoy dinner at the on-site restaurant, if you’ve had one too many glasses of wine!

Kangaroos by the dam.

Kangaroos by the dam.

Kangaroos after sunrise at Warrenmang.

Kangaroos after sunrise at Warrenmang.

So if you haven’t visited the Pyrenees before, be sure to add it to your list. The wines are fantastic, the scenery is breathtaking, and you are guaranteed a great, relaxing weekend away.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Read more:

Top 12 Things to do in Melbourne

The Pyrenees, Victoria’s best-kept wine secret

 

Shares

Enter your details below to receive our latest posts, updates, handy travel tips and to find out where we're off to next.

3 Comments

  • chai

    For art lovers, there are our newly renovated railway stations at Avoca and Beaufort, with art exhibitions by talented local artists.

    October 9, 2017 at 10:01 pm
    • Cindy Collins

      Thanks Chai, We’ll add that on the list for our next visit!

      October 9, 2017 at 10:06 pm
  • chai

    You will be most welcome at the Gallery 127 Avoca, 13-15 York Ave, Avoca 3467

    October 11, 2017 at 9:59 am

LEAVE A COMMENT