My favourite winery, by David Blake »

Finding vinous nirvana down a windy dirt road….

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Best's Great Western, Victoria

Best's Great Western, Victoria

George Mihaly, Paradigm Hill - a small, family run, vineyard and winery on the Mornington Peninsula
Grey Sands merlot, from the Tamar Valley, Tasmania
Nazaaray Estate Winery, Flinders, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
The famous Eucalyptus citriodora driveway  at Cruden Farm on the Mornington Peninsula


My favourite winery is difficult to find. Once out of town, several confusing, narrow roads must be navigated before you find the entrance, which you end up driving past because the sign to the winery is stuck at an odd angle and faces the opposite direction....

Once on the property you drive up a dirt track which is bordered by mature and impressive gum trees. Half way along the kilometre-long track you have to get out of the car to open a gate to drive through a sheep paddock, meanwhile manoeuvring a tricky bit of track near a dam, and passing several vineyards, which show leaves turning amber and red.

The winery itself is an old tin shed. A dog lies sleeping under the shade of a tank. The sign says open, but when you open the door, there is no sign of a person in attendance. A bell sits on the redeemed Victorian-era train station counter. You ring it. Then you wait, pondering on the silence, reading the captions on the photos on the wall and wine show memorabilia.

Eventually, the winemaker, wine grower and farmer, whose name might be Steve, or Mal or Gino walks in, apologising for being busy turning over a garden bed. The aroma of soil drifts around his craggy features, and when he shakes your hand, crushing your delicate officeworker hands, you have living proof that he is the wine maker.

Two bottles and two glasses are brought from a shelf behind the counter. "Now we just have the two wines here, a shiraz and a riesling," he says. And so you taste, and marvel at two wonderful wines, from a classic Australian winery, which are available for sale at a ridiculously low price. The shiraz is supple and mellow and sweet. The riesling is sharp and steely and will age magnificently if only you can hide it in a hard to reach spot in the home cellar. You buy a case of each, leaving it to Australia Post to deliver them in a week's time.

Of course, this description is a fiction, an amalgam of many visits to many vineyards.

Years ago, Clos Clare did sell only a red and a white. Many wineries were housed in tin sheds, up dirt driveways, with acreage shared with sheep and cattle.

However, the best winery tasting I have ever had took place at Grey Sands in Tasmania's Tamar Valley, where my wife and I were invited to taste Grey Sands' wines, sitting at a garden bench outside the owners hill top house, overlooking a paddock that ran down to the flats.

Earlier, it took some time to find out if anyone was 'home'. We did have to wait a while before Rita set up the wines on a table. "Just give me five minutes," she said, as she stopped work on the garden for an Open Gardens weekend. That was a vineyard visit I'll never forget because we had called outside of opening hours yet the wine makers still made time for us. Such admirable hospitality!

This article was contributed by David Blake, co-publisher and co-founder of Bioshares, an ASX-focused biotech and pharmaceutical investment newsletter. He is a believer in the philosophy of 'The Table', which values the preparation of great food which is then enjoyed by family and friends at the table, accompanied by wine, and not least, conversation which promotes freedom of expression and thought.

David has been a subscriber to since our launch in 2008. He  wrote this evocative piece in our subscriber survey in October-November 2015. What a gem! 

(c) David Blake and


  • Tamar Valley (TAS)

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March 17th, 2016
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