Three things you might not know about Mitchelton Wines at Nagambie, Victoria:
- Some of the winery’s original buildings were designed by renowned Melbourne modernist architect, Robin Boyd, who died before construction was completed.
- The winery produces around 8.5 million bottles of vino each year.
- Deep in the bowels of the complex, beyond the barrel room, there’s a parked-up fleet of vintage cars. Among them is Alice Cooper’s Corvette.
How do I know such things?
Monday last, I joined a group of writers and bloggers for a day tour of Mitchelton Wines to discover how the winery is developing as a new-generation wine, tourism and event destination.
If you’re a fifty-something Melbournian, you might (like me) have road-tripped (possibly with Welcome to My Nightmare blaring through the tapedeck) up the Hume Highway to visit Mitchelton Wines during the seventies or eighties. You remember … when wine casks were at their peak, bringing affordable vino into our kitchens and supermarkets and fooling us into thinking we were sophisticated wine devotees.
A trip to Mitchelton Wines in the eighties taught us there was much more to wine than a cardboard box.
A trip to Mitchelton Wines in 2014 taught me that there’s much more to a contemporary winery than wine.
Under new ownership since 2011, the winery is undergoing a renaissance, which takes its appeal beyond the cellar door to a fresh, lively identity as a destination for tourism and events.
The iconic tower building remains central to the complex, commanding brilliant views over the estate, the Goulburn River and beyond to the ranges in the distance.
Andrew Ryan, Managing Director, escorted us up to the 55m high viewing platform and pointed out the amphitheatre where Jimmy Barnes and Living End will entertain a 6,000 strong crowd at a Day on the Green on December 13. The space can cater for 10,000 and next year’s events plan to headline international artists.
Nearby, there’s a site earmarked for a 60-room hotel and, gloriously positioned at a bend on the river, is a purpose-designed deck and seating zone perfect for a wedding.
We lunch in the Muse Restaurant, soaking up the stunning architectural lines of the space and tasting our way through a selection of wines. For me, that meant my first sip of Marsanne and a comparative tasting of classic and modern Rieslings.
Andrew and winemaker Travis Clydesdale plus a couple of seasoned wine writers were on hand to show us what was what. Lunch was a sumptuous but casual feast of fresh salads, prawns, duck baguettes and groaning cheese platters.
The new Montage Restaurant and function centre is being fitted out to accommodate large groups for conferences, events and, of course, weddings.
These smell-as-good-as-they-look leather chairs are just a taste of the décor.
And then there’s a wall of prints, including this Mirka Mora beauty, dating to when the winery hosted a series of print prizes.
The flagship of the revitalised Mitchelton Winery could well be the Goulburn Explorer … half a million dollars worth of boat designed to cruise the Goulburn River between Jamiesons Point, Nagambie and Mitchelton Wines, taking in historic Tahbilk Winery.
The Goulburn Explorer can cater for 49 guests. Her upper deck makes a sublime vantage point as she glides along the waterways like she owns them, at a pace perfect for taking in the wildlife, admiring the ancient river gums and enjoying what must surely be a quintessential Aussie experience. With bar, catering and toilet facilities on board, I can imagine the Goulburn Explorer hosting a product launch, corporate event or a beautiful, cruisy wedding party.
The refurbished cellar door is elegant and brimming with wine and other local produce. The décor carries through a theme of brushed copper and dark timber, a feature throughout the winery complex.
Mitchelton Wines’ underground barrel room, occupying some 20,000 cubic metres, is one of Australia’s largest. It houses around 2,000 barrels and is an atmospheric space, brimming with the textures and aromas of timber, brick and underground earthiness.
And, yes, not far beyond is Alice Cooper’s Corvette. The revelation took me straight back to my seventeen-year-old self rocking out at Alice Cooper’s live performance at Festival Hall in March 1977. Ah, the memories!
Hard to believe that the Corvette, along with other vintage drives will be available for use at weddings/events held at the winery … a unique way to individualise your wedding, anniversary or birthday celebration, especially for us fifty-somethings who live to reminisce our youth.
There’s no doubt that the new-generation Mitchelton is about much more than the wine.
Which brings me to one more factoid you should know about Mitchelton: plans are in train to develop a boutique chocolate factory on the site.
That’s right … chocolate AND wine.
On the one site.
Watch this space.
470 Mitchellstown Road, Nagambie, Victoria 3608, Australia
Ph: +61 (0)3 5736 2222
Open 7 days (including Public Holidays) 10am -5pm
*** I travelled, dined, wined, cruised, ogled and reminisced as a guest of Mitchelton Wines.