Sunbury Wine Region

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The Sunbury Wine Region lies immediately northwest of the City of Melbourne, in fact Melbourne's Tullamarine International Airport lies within it's boundaries. It is therefore surprising that few people know much about it.

Just a little further north is the better known Macedon Ranges Region, but the climate at Sunbury is notably cooler and drier.

This is another Australian Wine region with a two part history - see box at right.

Wineries that survived the Phylloxera scourge of the 19th Century fell victim to economic forces in the 1920s when there was little demand for table wine.

The modern Sunbury wine region dates from the mid 1970s. The Goona Warra winery, like Craiglee, has been resurrected. In Goona Warra's case this case the hiatus was a hundred years.

The region stretches westward from the Hume Highway across to Bacchus Marsh. To the north is the Macedon Ranges Wine Region and to the South is Melbourne Airport and the ever encroaching suburbs.

The topography is undulating basalt plains intersected by sometimes steep river valleys. These give some small pockets of land with quite distinct microclimates.

The climate is cool, but marginally warmer than the Macedon ranges, and slightly more continental than some of the other Port Philip Zone regions.

Cool climate shiraz and Chardonnay are the most common wine types found here but a few wineries are starting to diversify into more innovative varietal wines. Picolit, grown by a Witchmont, is a northern Italian white wine variety which is used (in Italy at least) to make sweet white wines.

The following Sunbury wineries are using alternative varieties

  • Arundel Viognier
  • Bacchus Hill Fragola, Chenin blanc, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese
  • Galli Estate Fiano, Grenache, Mourvedre, Nebbiolo, Pinot gris, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier
  • Goona Warra Vineyard Cabernet franc, Roussanne
  • Longview Creek Cabernet franc, Chenin blanc
  • Rose Creek Estate Cabernet franc , Fragola, Zibibbo
  • Wildwood Petit verdot, Viognier
  • Witchmount Estate Barbera, Nebbiolo, Picolit, Pinot gris, Tempranillo

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Craiglee Winery

The Craiglee Winery at Sunbury was established in 1859. In 1872 it produced a wonderful 'Hermitage', presumably Shiraz, that won prizes at international wine shows. The winery was successful in its time but like many Victorian wineries it became economically unsustainable after WWI and produced it's last vintage in 1926. The bluestone winery remained and in the early 1950s a few cases of the 1872 wine was discovered. At 80 years the wine was sound and remarkably complex. A further tasting held in 1972 confirmed that Australian Shiraz could indeed remain sound a century after its production. Pat Carmody re-established the vineyard in the mid 1970s and for the past thirty years or so Craiglee has been producing some remarkable Shiraz.
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