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Best Bespoke Victorian Winery Experiences

Many wine enthusiasts and foodies are looking for bespoke winery experiences for that leisure weekend option. We've picked out some of our best bespoke Victorian winery experiences.

Fowles Wines

Fowles Wines is an exciting winery destination that ticks all the boxes, only 1 1/2 hours from Melbourne up the Hume Highway. A newly renovated cellar door and restaurant are housed in a modern building that is like a huge Aussie Shed, with clever use of up-cycling materials. At Fowles you will feel like you are engaging with a farm, not just a winery.

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The Farm Store is a beauty with elevation of local produce, and you can take away a swag of tasty meals. Visit the Cellar Door and the Tasting Bar which is a non traditional space to enjoy Fowles Wines and take in the Strathbogie Ranges. If you're into wild game meats Fowles has you covered.

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The restaurant is a standout with great value dishes and at a level we find is much more than most winery restaurants. Surely one of the best wineries to visit in Victoria. And don't forget the wines - including the famous Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch label.

Merricks Creek Wines

Merricks Creek is a fabulous bespoke winery experience in every way, only an hour from Melbourne, and well worth a visit. You can only get Merricks Creek wines from the winery cellar door. You won't find them in your local bottle shop or wine merchants. The Pinot Noir in particular is world class - a gem of a winery. Dr Peter Parker has consistently produced top notch Pinot Noir from his close planted vines and his French winemaking techniques. We know wine collectors who rate the Merricks Creek Pinot Noir amongst the best in Australia. (I was privileged to be at an epic dinner recently where a top corporate and wine collector pulled out a 2011 Merricks Creek Pinot Noir as a statement of Pinot Noir "as good as it gets in Australia".)

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To be honest, we consider Merricks Creek to be among the best cellar door experiences in Victoria. You won't find underwhelming food menu options her at inflated prices. Rather you will find gourmet share plates at reasonable prices, perfectly matches with the wines. In recent times the cellar door has expanded its number of wines on tasting and it is a highly rewarding experience. The feel of Merricks creek is one of giving back to the punters - a winery for the people. All with a stamp of class and style from the family run winery with modern cellar door and stunning vineyard setting.

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Enjoying Double cream cheese (Fromagerie Guilloteau: d'Affinois Campagnier) with grapes at stylish @merrickscreek on the Peninsula. Some of the best Pinot Noir around. 

Ocean Eight Winery

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A small cellar door doesn't reflect on quality; rather the quality of wines at Ocean Eight is first class.  Also the number of wines on tasting is not indicative of quality; a limited range here, but the wines are magnificent, particularly their Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. We have enjoyed experiencing the ageing wine in Ocean Eight’s beautiful underground barrel room, as well as amazing tasting of their wines. Michael Aylward is working wonders on the Mornington Peninsula. Small batch wineries are some of Victoria's best. You may not see their names all over billboards but you will find them stocked in discerning restaurants and known by true food and wine lovers. Ocean Eight is now listed on more than 300 wine lists of top restaurants around Australia!

Quealy Winemakers

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A visit to @quealywines is memorable in many ways - we call it a punk rock or alternative music style of winery. More Johnny Rotten than Kenny G. Kathleen Quealy is one of the most, if not the most well-known winemakers on the Peninsula. The first person to plant Pinot Gris/Grigio in Australia, she is a genius. You may find her at cellar door, passionate about wine, possibly giving her opinion on the rudiments of life, with a beloved dog (or two) under the table. Rustic and brilliant. When you order and take home some of her wines from the humble cellar door you will be surprised at the uniqueness of the Quealy offerings.

Pimpernel Vineyards

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Pimpernel Vineyards is a family run winery inspired by the regions of Rhone and Burgundy in France. They make some of the best wine in Yarra Valley and for a wine purist this is a must visit. Damian Archibald is a super talented winemaker and is often at Cellar Door; his passion and personality make for a first class Cellar Door visit. Interestingly the name Pimpernel is not related to the Scarlet Pimpernel but named after the flowers that grow up through their vines.

The grapes are dry-grown with no irrigation; dry root irrigation is bespoke in itself. This gives a greater fruit intensity to the wines.

Picking is done by hand - another bespoke trait. Bottling and labelling are done by the family. The wine is left to sit in an underground cellar (which we have visited - and experienced a barrel tasting) for a year before it is released. How bespoke can you get?

Soumah Wines

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Soumah Wines is a magical experience in a compelling part of the Yarra Valley; the Warramate foothills, possibly a little off the beaten track but a must visit. Sweeping views from the Cellar Door are inspiring, a great example of the scenery of the Yarra Valley. We appreciate the Italian influence at Soumah, with several bespoke wines and varietals; such as the award winning Savarro. 

Soumah features styles of Northern Italy such as Pinot Grigio, Rosata (deep colour), Brachetto and Nebbiolo. Other standouts include French styles of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and Viognier.

Soumah has a single vineyard focus, and looks for quality over quantity.

Maybe surprisingly we found their restaurant to be top notch with menu items of substance - perfectly matched with their wines. A bespoke experience that is highly recommended.

We recommend a visit to these bespoke wineries and also to consider a tour by leading wine tour company Wine Compass.

Check out our other articles on Best Wineries in the Yarra Valley and Best Wineries on the Mornington Peninsula.