North East Victoria is home to five recognised wine regions, separated by no more than an hour, yet each with a distinctly different offering to tempt any wine lover. The picturesque small Glenrowan region comprises just seven cellar doors, but it is one of Victoria's most historic wine regions, with production dating back to 1870.
You may have heard of Glenrowan because of its association with Australia's most famous bushranger, Ned Kelly. Still, our story begins with Richard Bailey and his family, who settled at the Bundarra property and pioneered grape-growing and winemaking in the early 1870s. In the late 1860s, Richard's son Varley planted vines on the rich red granite soil beneath the Warby Ranges. His fortified wines were such a success that he quickly expanded the vineyard and, over the next 20 years, created a thriving family-owned wine business.
No visit to Glenrowan is complete without stopping at Baileys, a certified organic winery. Organic winemaking at Baileys dates back to 1870, when Varley Bailey planted his vines, as he did so without the aid of synthetic sprays and chemicals. Therefore, it was only natural that we returned to these early years and the farming techniques used on the Bundarra property.
Today, the winery has an organic ethos from vine to glass, with delicious organic produce used in the food offerings and beautiful grounds to explore.
The Cellar Door exudes old-world charm. A full range of wines is available for tasting, including famed labels such as the 1920s Block Shiraz and Founder Series Classic Muscat. Try our limited release and Cellar Door exclusive wines, including Baileys Rare Muscat and Topaque, the Small Batch Series, and flagship Varley Shiraz. For an intimate tasting of groups of 6-12 people, you might consider a private tasting in the Spirit Bond tasting room.
The Bundarra Organic Kitchen is centered around the much-loved wood-fired pizza oven used for homemade pizzas topped with the freshest ingredients. The Café is open for lunch Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and we suggest booking in advance to secure your place at this popular spot.
After lunch and a wine tasting, explore the historical links to our past with a walk around the grounds. Visit the original 1870 winery, Clydesdale stables and blacksmith’s forge. The expansive native gardens provide a stunning visual backdrop, ever-changing with the seasons.
At the heart of our winemaking philosophy is the belief that we can craft better wine by adhering to organic farming principles. In 2009 we decided to adopt organic farming practices across all of our vineyards. This involved a three-year conversion, culminating in our certification in 2011. But what does organic actually mean? Simply put, it means we care for our vineyards without synthetic chemicals, sprays, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, or any other products that are not naturally occurring.
We are fortunate that the land does have some natural advantages when it comes to organic farming. Our vineyard adjoins the Warby Ovens National Park. The combination of dense bush and elevation protects our vineyards from heavy frosts, which can burn off delicate young shoots when they emerge in spring, and protects from buffeting winds that can cause issues with flowering.
The region has a comparable climate to nearby Rutherglen, though it has cooler temperatures in January and is generally wetter year round. The soils on the surrounding ranges are fertile and especially suited to vineyards and orchards. Shiraz is the main wine produced in the region, along with rich and delightful fortified wines.
THE WARBY RANGE
The dominant feature of\ the landscape is the Warby Range, which stretches twenty-five kilometres north to south, from Glenrowan towards the Murray River. The Warby’s have a wildness, quite distinct from other ‘high country’ in the North East. Rugged granite hills emerge from the southern end of the range, rising more than 400 meters at Mount Glenrowan with steep gullies and ravines that run completely dry in summer and form cascading waterfalls in the cooler months. A thick covering of scrubby alpine gums blankets the hillsides around Glenrowan and Taminick, giving way to towering River Red gums at the northern fringe.
THE WINTON WETLANDS
The Winton Wetlands, Australia’s largest wetland restoration project, lies immediately to the west, just a few hundred metres from the winery. Almost 9000 hectares in size, the
wetlands are an area of great environmental, ecological and indigenous significance and add to the already rich diversity of flora and fauna in the Glenrowan Wine Region.
The King Valley is unquestionably Australia’s most notable region for Italian varietals. The
Alpine Valley grows a diversity of crisp white and elegant red wines in often breath-taking vineyard settings. Beechworth is one of the country’s most exciting wine regions, with world-class Shiraz and Chardonnay produced by a handful of producers with cult-like followings. The historic Rutherglen needs no introduction, such is its global fame for fortified wines.