The Rutherglen Wine Region in North East Victoria has achieved iconic status with its fortified wines.
It has also been associated with big, full bodied long-lived red wines, a style that has gone out of fashion.
But things are changing...
In more recent years a range of new varieties and styles have been made, with considerable success.
You will now find Italian varieites as well as the classic port varieties from the Iberian peninsula.
As the big, robust and highly tannic red wines characteristic of Rutherglen have become less popular a few wineries have begun making sparkling red wines. This style has not attracted universal approval, but it certainly has its enthusiasts.
The wine industry was established in the middle of the nineteenth century. Unlike many other Victorian wine regions, Rutherglen escaped the Phylloxera pest, and was able to survive the fall in popularity of table wines by developing a specialty in fortified wine.
Many wineries around in this wine region have been in the same family for several generations and are housed in historic gold era buildings that provide an appropriate setting to taste the venerable wines.
Many of the winery buildings, including those at All Saints, Gehrig Estate, Mount Prior and Pfeiffer, are well worth visiting for their architectural interest, quite apart from the superb table and fortified wines.
The fortified wines of Rutherglen are undoubtedly of world class quality. Rutherglen Ports* and Sherries* matched it with all but the best of the Iberian wines of those styles. But the region's unique gifts to the world are the Muscats and Tokays* which have no equal.
*In the modern era this terminology is no longer used. To comply with modern international naming these wines are now called Vintage fortified, Apera and Topaque
The region is centred around the town of Rutherglen and is bounded on the north by the Murray River. Other towns within the region include Wahgunyah and Chiltern, and immediately across the river in New South Wales is the substantial town of Corowa.
While it is feasible to visit the region as a day trip from Melbourne you will enjoy yourself more if you stay a night or two.
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