Monday, 27 February 2017

New taste trail unveiled on the 'quiet' side of Geelong

Last year I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days exploring the Moorabool Valley, north-west of Geelong, and home to picturesque villages, rolling hills, rivers and valleys, and some outstanding food and wine experiences.

A little off the beaten track, but not far from Avalon Airport, the Moorabool Valley has often been in the shadow of better-known Victorian wine regions.


To address that issue the new Moorabool Valley Taste Trail has just been launched, to help cement this flourishing region firmly in the minds of gastronomic visitors. The new trail features wineries, farm gates, cafés, restaurants, produce stores, events, markets and much more.

There are many boutique, family-run vineyards in the region. A number feature in the acclaimed James Halliday five-star list including destination vineyard Clyde Park Vineyard and Bistro, which is, to my mind, one of the best winery eateries in the country.

Perched on a stunning hilltop with sublime valley views, Clyde park produces a range of wines and delicious fare ranging from wood-fired pizzas to long summer lunches.

Nearby, Lethbridge Wines, recognised as one of Australia's most environmentally sustainable vineyards, uses innovative organic and biodynamic methods to produce savoury and textured wines.

At Sutherlands Creek in the heart of the Moorabool Valley is Austins & Co, where the family have been producing world-class wines for more than 30 years, while Del Rios Cellar Door and Café continues a family tradition with Spanish-inspired fare including paella and traditional tapas.



Provenance Wines, Eagles' Rise and Moorabool Ridge are other small wine labels to look out for, along with Rowsley Fault, Barwon Ridge and Spence Wines, which all open on the first weekend of each month.

The cool climate of the region also creates the ideal environment for producing an abundance and great variety of foods. From olives to cheese, berries to eggs, leafy greens, herbs and fruiting crops. Camilo Olives is particularly well known for its award-winning olive oil, while Meredith Dairy is the largest sheep and dairy goat farm in Australia and Sage Farm is a busy and genuine paddock-to-plate farm with an on-site butchery providing beef, lamb and veal. Berries can be found at Summer Sensations and Berry Organic Farm.

The flagship restaurant of the Moorabool Valley, operated by celebrated chef Matt Dempsey, is Gladioli at Inverleigh. Another jewel in the crown of the valley is Bannockburn Station, a fully licensed restaurant set in a restored 150-year-old bluestone railway station.

The region is also home to some great events, festivals and Farmers' Markets throughout the year. The Real Food Festival runs from March 4-18 offering cooking workshops, farm tours, local produce dinners and gardening events. Toast to the Coast is held over the Melbourne Cup long weekend in November and features three days of wine tasting and entertainment with a number of Moorabool Valley wineries taking part.

For further information go to www.visitgeelongbellarine.com.au



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