Gippsland is best known for its pinot noir, an enduring calling card for the cool-climate region. But eastern Victoria’s sweeping scenery yields much more than that.
With a focus on locally sourced cuisine, Gippsland’s wineries make the most of their blissful surrounds, inviting everything from winding daytrips to longer and more leisurely stays – thanks to some unique on-site accommodation. While the region itself is vast, it can be made more approachable by focusing on certain subregions, equally accessible via Melbourne and New South Wales.
Whether you find yourself skirting along coastlines or mountain ranges, your explorations of Gippsland will be rewarded with world-class wine and inviting vibes. With that in mind, here are some highlights to help you plan your tasting voyage.
Lightfoot & Sons, Calulu
Flourishing between the Great Dividing Range and Bass Strait, Lightfoot & Sons’ Myrtle Point vineyard was planted in the mid-1990s on what was then a family farm. Still a family business, the winery is renowned for its cherry- and plum-driven pinot noir, plus flavoursome chardonnay, shiraz and pinot grigio. Also look out for Darkfoot, its decade-aged take on mistelle, as well as a couple of standout sparklings and a few more experimental releases in limited runs. All the wine is grown and produced right there on the property. Beyond regular tastings, the cellar door (open from Friday to Sunday) offers a local-themed platter of food and wine pairings called “Taste of East Gippsland”, showcasing memorable regional eats from Sardine, The Long Paddock and Northern Ground. Or take your wine out onto the deck and spend the afternoon gazing out over the panoramic Mitchell River valley.
Nicholson River Winery, Nicholson
One of East Gippsland’s oldest established vineyards, Nicholson River Winery dates back to 1978, when Ken and Juliet Eckersley were inspired to take up winemaking, noticing similarities between the Gippsland Lakes region and the wine-rich south-west of France. Directly overlooking its winding namesake, the winery presents a spectacular overview of the region – in both its scenery and its produce. Local artist Jenny Toye even pays homage to the area and its ecology on the brand’s distinctive labels. Nicholson River’s full-bodied pinot noir is a Gippsland classic, while other favourites include the preservative-free chardonnay and the eucalypt-kissed Montview syrah. Everything is made on-site, with a cellar door open daily, offering local cheese and antipasto platters alongside tastings, plus a restaurant space available for private functions.
Ripplebrook Winery, Ripplebrook
Catena Raffaele opened Ripplebrook Winery in 2015, and the property is suffused with the memory of her father, who hailed from the Aeolian Islands near Sicily. Cellar-door restaurant Giuseppes (open Saturday and Sunday) is named for him, while the menu’s Sicilian-style woodfired pizzas each take their name from one of the seven major Aeolian Islands. That intimate feel stretches right across Ripplebrook, from other shareable homemade eats, with produce drawn heavily from local producers, to the quaint cellar door’s snug proximity to Mount Baw Baw. As for the wines, start with the Peppino pinot noir (a nod to Guiseppe’s nickname) and then proceed to the rosé, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon.
Cannibal Creek Winery, Tynong North
Cannibal Creek has come a long way from its humble beginnings in a corrugated iron barn. Spouses Patrick and Kirsten Hardiker, who started planting grapes by hand in the late ’90s, now oversee an architect-designed winery and cellar door (open daily) that updates the original building’s rustic charm. And the Hardikers still grow, pick and produce their wine by hand, using a minimal-intervention approach. Sidle up to the jarrah and red-gum bar and tables, or settle into a leather armchair near the wood fire to explore two available guided tastings that highlight Cannibal Creek’s trusty pinot noir and merlot, crispy white wines and the sparkling blanc de blancs. The cellar-door menu, meanwhile, ranges from cheese and charcuterie boards to heartier options like house-made gnocchi, and mushroom and pumpkin arancini.
Harman Wines, Wattle Bank
Just seven kilometres north of Inverloch and the Bass Strait, Harman Wines sprang from David and Nicole Harman’s equal passions for sustainability and family. Founded in a former horse stud in Wattle Bank, the winery is now home to roaming chickens and sheep as well as a cosy cellar door (open for lunch Saturday and Sunday, and dinner on Fridays). The acreage produces chardonnay, sav blanc, pinot grigio and rosé, among other handmade wines, with a preference for wild ferments and organic and biodynamic practices. Visitors can settle in outside at picnic tables or in the garden’s pergola area for a wine flight, grazing on local cheese platters and woodfired pizzas, including a layered vegetarian number with roasted pumpkin, feta, pine nuts and spinach.
Dirty Three Wines, Inverloch
Named for the three “dirts” (i.e. vineyards) where they grow their grapes, spouses Lisa Sartori and Marcus Satchell showcase their small, curated range from a cellar door (open Friday through Sunday) in the seaside township of Inverloch. Their juicy pinot noir draws from the best elements of each of those vineyards, while the sparkling shiraz is especially popular during the holiday season. Sit-down tasting flights are available, with the ready ambience of either fireside or outdoor seating accompanied by cheese and charcuterie offerings from the region, as well as local gins and beers.
Waratah Hills Vineyard, Fish Creek
Perched right along the route to Wilsons Promontory, Waratah Hills is the southernmost winery on the Australian mainland. Planted two decades ago in the Burgundy style, with low trellising and tight-knit planting, the vineyard produces peppery pinot noir and citrus-driven chardonnay as well as a sparkling blanc de noirs and a pinot-based rosé. Meanwhile, wine consultant Mark Protheroe curates the vineyard’s secondary label, Prom Road, which branches into prosecco, shiraz and a few picnic-ready wines ideal for an afternoon outing. Housed in a former tractor shed, the airy cellar door (open Friday to Sunday) taps fresh produce from Aherns Fruit Market just 15 minutes up the road – and some ingredients from even closer (the kitchen garden). Enjoy your visit under the sun with casual seating options on the terrace and the lawn.
Narkoojee, Glengarry North
Meaning “place of flowers” in the local Koori language, Narkoojee began when Harry Friend planted vines on his parents’ dairy farm in 1980 and moved to the property with his wife Val the following decade. Today the winery includes a cellar door (open daily) as well as a full restaurant set against the sweeping backdrop of the Strzelecki Ranges. The menu features pizzas and other dishes with a strong focus on local produce – from mushrooms and garlic to eye filet mignon and a garden-produced veggie bowl – and each and every dish (apart from dessert) comes with a suggested wine pairing. As for those wines, explore the oak-aged Valerie range of chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz, as well as limited releases and other lines, all at accessible price points. And definitely don’t sleep on the Athelstan merlot, a Pomerol-style drop that’s rich in black plums, cinnamon and mulberries.
Vines on Avon, Maffra
Avon Ridge Vineyard made its name with Gippsland-grown pinot noir and blanc de blancs, plus a refreshing range of ciders sourced from West Gippsland apples, pears, strawberries and even passionfruit. The on-site restaurant, meanwhile, earned an eye-catching makeover in 2019 when Molly Work and Jim Inglis from Sale’s Portside Food & Wine rebranded it as The Vines on Avon, a welcoming spot for breakfast and lunch (Thursday through Sunday) and a popular wedding destination. Cue a wine list that extends beyond the immediate region to offer a cross-section of Victorian and further-flung drops. Don’t be surprised to encounter crafty cocktails and mellow live music too, complete with a vintage caravan serving Avon Ridge drops and South Gippsland beer in the garden.
Toms Cap Vineyard, Willung South
Nestled in the thick of the Strzelecki Ranges’ nature reserves, hilltop vineyard Toms Cap has evolved steadily since the early ’90s, yielding a 3 Dogs range that includes a rosé, shiraz, riesling and sav blanc. Also look out for a sparkling chardonnay blend and a deep purple cab sav. Of course, the 100-acre property is a strong calling card, flanked by blue gums and cascading hills. That makes it a sought-after weekend lunch spot that’s well worth the drive, with generous views and sunlight. The restaurant offers long lunches from Friday to Sunday (in the warmer months, you're encouraged to linger on the deck and on the lawn) and the cellar door is open for wine sales. And four on-site cottages make for dreamy accommodation, whether you want to soak in the sunset, sunrise or both.
Explore more of Gippsland’s unique wine destinations here
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This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Visit Victoria.