When people think of Victorian wines, they jump to the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula, and that’s for good reason – these regions have great conditions for growing Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Chardonnay… we are spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing wines to drink form these regions! Outside of these lush locales, though, things can get tricky.
A place like Sunbury, northwest of Melbourne, is dry. It’s not ideal for growing wine. However, on the outskirts of town, there is a rich valley nestled between a rough cliff and sloping hills, with a creek running through it. Here, Pat Carmody is working his way through his 40th vintage, making award winning Shiraz and Chardonnay.
Craiglee Vineyard is located 45 minutes out of Melbourne, on the outskirts of Sunbury
Pat’s family used the land for sheep farming, but long before that – in 1863 – the Johnston family planted Shiraz and Riesling vines on the property and built a beautiful, gravity-fed bluestone winery. Around the time Pat took over the family farm in the 70s, a bottle of the Johnston’s 1872 Hermitage (Shiraz) had been opened at a wine show, and everyone was wowed. One hundred years later, this wine was still in good form. That said something pretty significant about this terroir – something Pat recognised.
Pat Carmody at Craiglee’s monthly cellar door tasting
From then, Pat turned the farm back into a winery, planting his first vines in 1976 and taking advantage of this special spot, ideal for growing cool climate wines. Today, Craiglee boasts some of Australia’s finest Shiraz and Chardonnay.
Okay, I might be a bit biased, as the winery is run by my partner’s family. However, I think in every story – behind every product – history is important. The history of Craiglee is a rich one, and it helps make their wines that much better.
Pat and his wife Dianne host a cellar door at Craiglee every first Sunday of the month, where you can do a tasting inside the still-functioning bluestone winery. Pat has plenty more to say about the history of this special place. As for the wines, he lets them speak for themselves. For more information visit craigleevineyard.com.
The bluestone winery at Craiglee, built in 1863, and still in use
One of our other favourite wine regions in Victoria is Beechworth – check out why we love it here.
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