Of course no visit to the region is complete without visiting wineries and the Milawa Cheese Factory! As we'd had a lazy morning and lunch in Beechworth, we didn't have all that much time for tastings before starting the 3 hour drive home. Armed with the regional map - very handy, get one from the vistor information centre - we selected a few places and headed off.
Driving from Beechworth to Gapsted, we reached Gapsted Wines. Unfortunately we were full from lunch; Gapsted offered a very tempting package of platters matched to wines for tasting. We loved their tasting notes and food recommendations for each wine. Not "meat dishes" or "seafood" but "seared venison fillets with roasted capsicum, on grilled polenta with a spicy cherry relish" or "spring asparagus with shaved parmesan and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon". All the more reason we should have tried their platters?
The wines are excellent and as tempting as it was to stock up, we only walked away with a few bottles of their 2005 Tobacco Road Sauvignon Blanc Semillon. Very reasonably priced at under $15, the passionfruit aromas are wonderfully intense and we could imagine lazy summer evenings with a chilled glass or two of this very crisp white. One of the wine makers is Michael Cope-Williams and remembering the surname, a quick search indicates that he is connected to Cope-Willams in Romsey. Must bookmark for a visit when we're next heading torwards Mount Macedon.Milawa Cheese CompanyAbout 20 minutes' drive away is Milawa and the Milawa Cheese Company. Turn onto Snow Road and continue until you see the signs indicating Milawa Cheese and Brown Brothers. I love this story from their website:
"Both schoolteachers by trade, David and Anne Brown established Milawa Cheese Company with Richard Thomas in 1988. Richard sold his share of the company to them in 1990. The Milawa site was chosen because it had good water, was between Sydney and Melbourne and close to Brown Brothers Winery. David and Anne cemented their cheese and good food obsession whilst backpacking around Europe in the eighties. Known to give up a hotel room for "a good feed", David and Anne spent many a night in their tent pitched in a field or churchyard in France and England, warmed by the regional food and wine in their bellies."
With an "obsession" like that, the cheese has to be good... and it is! This wonderfully patient and smiling staff member was at the tasting counter serving crowd after crowd of visitors. (There is a tasting counter with a big sign saying "Tastings", don't be like the lady that shoved her way through the sales queue demanding to try from the wedges for sale only to be told that yes, she really had to line up at the other counter.)We sat outside and had a little picnic with a selection including the Gold (stinky and makes your mouth quiver in such a good way), the Aged Blue (yes we like our cheese strong) and a 2 year old cheddar, and fresh apples without the wax you get on those supermarket apples. We also one of the goat's milk cheese range, I think it was the goat camembert that Niki bought. The only thing that I would have loved more was a table in the sun as it was a beautiful day, but in the afternoon the eating area is in full shade so there wasn't much we could do. Still, we weren't complaining!We also took home some goat cheese curd and marinated goat's cheese. The former can be spread on anything and I even experimented and put some into some zucchini fritters I made, and the latter was delicious in a pasta with spinach, capsicum and peas. In Melbourne, Milawa Cheese has opened up their Australian Cheese Shop which is fantastic for avoiding the 2.5 hours to drive for this cheese!
Brown Brothers is not far and you'll be glad you came here. I'm always amazed at the huge range of wines they produce and there are plenty of cellar door only purchases to be made. I'll highlight the fruity and fizzy Moscato as there's always someone in the family who likes very sweet wines with meals, and the choice may be this lighter dessert wines. It's probably very wrong and I'm sure someone will turn their nose at the concept of having something so sweet with mains, but I joined in and it sure beats a soft drink at a barbecue! :-)
The Orange Muscat and Flora has to be tried. Smooth honey flavours, orange aromas... hmm, where's our bottle gone to? Damn, we polished it off quickly!
The cellar doors at most wineries seem to close at 5pm which is a good time to start the journey back to Melbourne.I've singled out the white wines here but the reds are definitely just as drinkable. If we had more time, we would have gone further to Rutherglen (amazing Durifs and fortifieds!) where I spent a weekend about 4 years ago. If you plan to tour this region, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to cover everything, it's well worth it! I was fortunate that we had a designated driver but always remember to take it easy and drink sensibly.
Great Alpine Road,
Milawa Cheese Company
The Australian Cheese Shop
655 Nicholson St,
Labels: Dairy, Travel - Victoria, Wine