Geelong was a premium wine region in the gold rush era from the middle of the 19th Century. Like several other Victorian wine regions during that time there were several Swiss vignerons who had an influence on the region.
Then in 1875 the wine louse Phylloxera was discovered at Fyansford in this region and all the vines were removed in a vain attempt to stop the pest.
The vineyards were not replanted, primarily for economic reasons. Demand for Australian table wine was in the doldrums for the next eighty years, and there was more money to be made from other agricultural industries.
From a wine point of view, Geelong was a forgotten area. In 1973 Len Evans compiled the Australia and New Zealand Complete Book of Wine. The only mention of vines in the Geelong area referred to plantings at Dromburg, hundreds of kilometres away. But in fact the revival of fortunes had started in the late 1960s with the establishment of the Anakie vineyard and the Idyll vineyard.
After nearly a century, the Australian wine industry was revived, and the Geelong region is now starting to regain its reputation. The climate is cool and many of the vineyards, particularly those on the Bellarine Peninsula, benefit from a cooling maritime influence during summer and autumn.
Most Geelong region wineries are of boutique scale. Pinot gris is the most common alternative variety, perhaps reflecting the penchant for Pinot noir in the region and because vignerons can see the success that this variety is having in the Mornington Peninsula just across the Port Philip Bay.
Planning a wine tour of the Geelong wine region is easily done. While the region can be visited as a day trip from Melbourne there are plenty of accommodation and fine dining options that could induce you to stay for an extra day or two.
Geelong wineries can get listed in the New Wine-is System to promote their wines worldwide
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