How Wine in the Geelong Region Has Evolved Over the Years – Our Guide

Green vineyard

If you have visited Australia, you would know that Geelong is the country’s “comeback kid” wine region. It all started around the 1840s when Swiss settlers brought their skills and knowledge about viticulture to Geelong and other regions of Victoria. For the following two decades, Geelong then became famous as the state’s premier wine-growing region.

In 1875, however, Geelong’s vineyards were all uprooted when the wine louse Phylloxera (a pest) was discovered at Fyansford. They uprooted the produce in an effort to control and stop the pest epidemic. Yet, primarily due to economic reasons, the vineyards were not replanted. Demands for the Australian wines then became stagnant for the next eighty years, as more money came from other agricultural industries. As a result, Geelong became the “forgotten area”, from a wine point of view, during the most part of that century.

A hundred years later saw the revival of wineries in the Geelong region. It was when Nini and Daryl Sefton decided to bring back winemaking when they established Idyll Vineyard, which began the new heritage of family-owned wineries and vineyards that exists till today. What gives this Australian wine a characteristic of its own is the focus on hands-on winemaking, combined with the attributes of Geelong’s three distinct sub-regions.

Nowadays, when you hear Geelong, you would think of cool-climate wines, mostly Shiraz, Pinot, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Merlot. 

So what does Geelong have to offer to wine travellers? The answer is, Geelong has lots to offer!

What is so great about the regional growers here is that they are always experimenting and willing to plant a wide array of wine grapes. It is a well-known fact that where high-quality wine is concerned, Geelong, despite being a small region with mostly family-owned vineyards and wineries, you still get to interact with the real people behind the wines. Plus, with a long stretch of a relatively large area of land, you will find a diverse set of climates and soils that allow growers to produce different wine styles, and producers work with all aspects of grape wine varieties and approaches.

As expected, Gewürtztraminer, Riesling, and Chardonnay are all on the top of the list of white wine varieties here, but you can also find Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Viognier. As for the red options, the more famous ones are the traditional Australian favourites like Merlot, Shiraz, and Pinot noir. Yet, do not be surprised to find plantings of Primitivo, Carmenere, Gamay, and Lagrein.

Geelong’s Distinct Sub-Region

There are over 60 wineries in the Geelong area and 52 cellar doors, all of which are all inviting. The three sub-regions include Bellarine, Surf Coast, and Moorabool Valley. 

Bellarine, surrounded by water, is a stunning peninsula jutting out into the middle of Port Phillip Bay. Wines here are softer but are more fruit-driven. This is mainly due to the ocean that has a moderating impact on wine temperature.

Home to some of the country’s remarkable epic surf breaks is the Surf Coast sub-region, located down along the coast to the southwest of Bellarine. This area is the rugged and exposed part of the region, providing a new frontier for the winemaking tradition.

Sitting between the township of Ballarat and Geelong is the Moorabool Valley, knowns as the region’s jewel. More inland, it provides a warmer climate with lean soils. 

Geelong Winery Tours

Exploring the depths of winemaking culture in Geelong can be easily done. Because the Geelong region offers the best wineries in near the Mornington Peninsula, there will always be one that would satisfy your cravings. Check out Wilsons Wine today to learn more about our wine tour packages!

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