Drinking in winemaking history
For travellers in central Victoria there is one winery that is an absolute must-see – Tahbilk (or Chateau Tahbilk as it was once known). Sitting on the Goulburn River just 90 minutes out of Melbourne, it is a property steeped in history, with its first roots put down in 1860.
Among 200 hectares of vines, some of which were planted over 150 years ago, are beautifully historic buildings full of grandeur and an ancient underground cellar that hark back to a long forgotten era of Australian wine. In the 19th century, Tahbilk was the colony’s largest wine exporter and today it remains one of Australia’s finest wineries located on an exquisite estate.
The estate is full of spectacular scenery
Since 1925 the Purbrick family have been custodians of Tahbilk and today it is run by fourth-generation winemaker Alister Purbrick. But more than just any winery Tahbilk is a place of remarkable history, arguably in its finest winemaking form.
Whether a coincidence or not, this golden winemaking streak has come as the Purbrick family has invested significantly in their local environment and made its protection a core part of their business. The cellar door is now surrounded by an extensive set of walking trails through the local wetlands with the entire winery and wider operation also carbon neutral, all in an effort to protect the Tahbilk legacy.
Although stunning to visit, Tahbilk is also located in a place with a unique viticultural environment. While its central Victorian region can experience baking summers, the close proximity of the Namgambie Lakes and Goulburn river serves to cool and protect local vineyards, giving the wines a unique mix of both elegance and power. And this allows Tahbilk to craft a wide range of wines, focusing largely on the classic grape varieties from the Rhone Valley in France.
The Purbricks have held the Tahbilk legacy for four generations
While shiraz and grenache are the best known grape varieties, Tahbilk is also a pioneer of the white marsanne grape – an Australian classic that can improve in the cellar for 10 years or more.
Their finest wine, however, comes from an ancient shiraz block, planted in the 1860s, that creates a dense and thoroughly ageworthy Victorian shiraz. While the 1860 Vines Shiraz is a standout, the same attention to detail, character and quality are found in the whole range, which is why Tahbilk continues to be a winery worth a visit, or two.
(Images via Tahbilk Winery)