For many wine lovers the brand of Mitchelton has a special place in their cellar. Led by the late Chief Winemaker Don Lewis. Mitchelton’s famed Print Label Shiraz was a regular winner at wine shows and a must have wine in many collectors liquid assets!
The Victorian vineyard has been through a number of owners with the brand taking a hit, but there seems to light at the end of the tunnel with new owners from the famed Melbourne Ryan family who created Australia leading caravan manufactures, Jayco. Purchased in 2011, the family has been busy putting in plans in place to re-create the glory days of Mitchelton and re-establish the great brand. New Chief winemaker Travis Clydesdale knows well the history having been the winemaker just next door at Tabilk Wines and his father has spent many years working at Mitchelton with Don Lewis so understands the history of this great place.
Founded in 1969 by Ross Shelmerdine Mitchelton has gone through a few lean years, but the re-birth and investment will give great joy to the many supporters of the winery. Led by Andrew Ryan who has a clear vision, which included the recent opening of the AUD$16 million designer hotel managed by global hotel brand Sofitel. Andrew explained that joining up with Sofitel gives Mitchelton excellent opportunities through this hospitality giant and their systems.
The winery is located around 90 min drive north of Melbourne in the lovely Goulburn Valley region, well known for the Nagambie lakes, where Melbourne schools can be seen rowing for medals or locals go weekend fishing. The region is also home to the Melbourne Cup winning horse Black Caviar and as you drive through the area the lush green fields are full of animals grazing.
It was exactly that soil and the cool climate that convinced the founders to establish a vineyard and with the rich history of trophies there is little doubt of their wisdom. Trophies include the 1991 Jimmy Watson Trophy for the 1990 Print Shiraz made by Don Lewis, cementing his & Mitchelton’s name in Australian wine industry history and also achieving the prestigious Langton Classification.
As you leave the main road and enter the gates you are struck by tower that rises high above the vineyards and winery where-from you have a perfect birds eye view of the estate. Look closely and you can see a few kangaroo’s jumping around the vineyards as guests relax on the lawns enjoying the café or delightful positioned Muse restaurant. Located overlooking the Goulburn River the dining room offers regional inspired produce flavours with of course an excellent wine selection. The rustic interior feel combines perfectly with a friendly service and food and on warm days you can laze around outside sipping your latte with the homemade Ministry of Chocolate dessert or enjoy the delicious Botrytis Blackwood Park Riesling a perfect match with a local Blue Cheese.
As you look across the lawn the latest addition to the estate is perfectly situated with the new design hotel set back overlooking the river. Designed by the renowned Melbourne architects and interior designers of Hecker Guthrie, features earthy tones and every modern luxury, each room is a personal sanctuary with the full offering of the winery at the door and a pool available for guests. The hotel includes a very nice spa located on the 4th floor overlooking the calming river and forest, giving an ideal place to relax in as you prepare for your dinner in Muse or walk around the magnificent Aboriginal art gallery.
The cellar door is a great place to “try” a few of old classics, but also a few new varietals including the excellent Sangiovese from the new Heathcote Collection. The entry level Preece Series has been re-vamped including re-designing the label using Algorithmic art, also known as algorithm art, which has produced a brilliant visual range that looks stunning and almost like Aboriginal art!
Mitchelton is truly a gourmet retreat offering a perfect weekend escape or an ideal place to host a “business-meeting” or just a day trip from Melbourne. The continued investment from the Ryan family will safeguard the brand and create a viable future to protect the wonderful heritage created by past.
As you return to Melbourne and if you still feel a need for another taste of wine the area of Heathcote – often called Victoria’s “Rhone Valley” is worth a visit and the wines worth grazing any cellar. The region is home to numerous boutique wineries including Mitchelton and the iconic Jasper Hill that are winning constant acclaim from the wine media and with ideal growing conditions and soil types look out for these wines in your local wine store.