RUTHERGLEN | Being big fans of topaque, we’ve been planning a trip to Rutherglen for a while but had never got around to it until recently because, you know the way it goes, life gets in the way and other things pop up – the next thing you know it’s been a few years since the idea was first floated. A few months ago Ford Australia contacted us, asking if we’d like to borrow a new Ford Mustang for a few days. We’re not exactly car enthusiasts at The City Lane, but a Mustang? Oh yeah. Thinking of a way to make a Mustang relevant to The City Lane audience brought up the aforementioned idea of a Rutherglen weekend, so we roped in a few mates (which wasn’t exactly difficult), locked in a day, and a month later were driving a Mustang up the Hume Highway towards Rutherglen.
A gold mining town during the mid 19th century, Rutherglen is today known for its wineries. In particular it’s known Durif and sweet fortified wines.
Durif (known in the USA and Israel as Petite Sirah) is a variety of red grape that originated in France that produces deep, red wines which are firm, acidic and high in tanins. It’s an interesting style of grape, and everyone in Rutherglen has a Durif on offer. The Durif at Scion Vineyard & Winery is fantastic, as is the sparkling Durif at Anderson Winery.
When you’re done with wine tasting for the day and find yourself back in town, check out the Victoria Hotel in Rutherglen’s town centre if you want a traditional country pub that has more than just commercial lagers on tap and a jukebox with music of all genres and eras of hits.
For something a bit more refined, check out Taste restaurant for some modern Australian cooking of the casual Rutherglen Brewery, which is attached to Taste. The brewery has a great selection of craft beers on tap, tasty pizzas and live music in the beer garden on weekends.
When the morning comes and you’re looking for something tasty to start the day, and to help you line your stomach for another day of wine tasting, head to Pickled Sisters. Located just next door to Cofield Wines, Pickled Sisters offer a focused menu of simple breakfast dishes cooked using local ingredients where possible.
After breakfast, a tasting at Cofield Wines is a must. Their sparkling wines are particularly delicious.
When it comes to lunch, Jones Winery & Vineyard is a great option. The menu features home style, French influenced dishes in a cozy environment. Of course it also helps that you can enjoy some of Jones’ great wines with your meal.
When you’re ready for more wine tasting, check out All Saints Estate whose cellar door is housed inside an old castle and has one of the most extensive ranges of wines on offer in Rutherglen. Also attached to All Saints Estate is a produce shop where you can stock up on cheese and charcuterie, and the hatted Terrace Restaurant, which is by all accounts fantastic but was unfortunately closed for mid-year break when we visited.
Campbell’s Wines is another of Rutherglen’s larger wineries and, along with All Saints Estate, have one of the most extensive selections of wines on offer in the region. Try their famous Bobbie Burns Shiraz and our favourite, the Sixties Block.
Valhalla Wines is located right near All Saints Estate and is a small winery with 9 different varieties of wine on offer. Try their Viognier, which is a particular favourite of ours.
One of our favourite wineries in the region is Stanton & Killeen. We first tried their topaqe a few years ago, when we used it to make a deliciously unctuous chicken liver pate. The selection of wines, and in particular sweet fortifieds here is impressive. What’s even more impressive is that you can buy in bulk – we purchased 5 litres to age in an oak barrel and make further pate, and drink of course.
Also of note is Pfeiffer Wines. We didn’t get a chance to visit while we were in Rutherglen, but by all accounts their wines are also fantastic. I guess it’s just another reason for us to return.
If you can’t find suitable accommodation in Rutherglen because you’ve left things too late and everything within your budget has gone (which we may or may not have done), a good option is to check out the town of Corowa, located immediately north of the Victoria/New South Wales border and only a 15 minute drive from Rutherglen’s town centre. We stayed at the Statesman Motor Inn in Corowa and would happily stay there again.
Rutherglen is a fantastic part of Victoria and we’re amazed that it took us so long to get here. There’s a real sense of community between the winemakers and other business owners and the landscape is beautiful. The wines are fantastic and we were impressed with the food we ate too. Thanks to Ford Australia for lending us a Mustang, which got more than a few looks as we drove it through the streets of country towns. By the end of the first day, the surprisingly spacious boot was completely filled with bottles of wine and cheese.