Words Jessica Gadd Images Ferne Millen
Just an hour from Melbourne is the Geelong Wine Region: home to three very different subregions, each of which produces its own distinct style.
From the glorious views and beaches of the Surf Coast, or the sheltered bays and abundant wildlife of the Bellarine Peninsula, to the golden plains of the Moorabool Valley: wherever you go, you’ll find a wide variety of plantings – riesling, gewurztraminer, merlot, primitivo, gamay, langrein and carmenere, to name a few.
But it’s shiraz and pinot noir that the region is really renowned for, knock-your-socks-off wines that score more than their fair share of accolades.
‘Our flagship wine is pinot noir, and we have always aimed to make “pinot noir for the people”,’ explains Scott Austin, managing director of Austins & Co. Winery, and president of Wine Geelong. ‘The cool-climate region of Geelong is perfect for growing the varieties of pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and shiraz, and that is what we focus on at our winery.’
Austins & Co. is one of 22 wineries participating in this year’s Toast to the Coast Festival, across 17 venues. Now in its 17th year, this festival has long given locals and visitors alike the chance to slow down and spend some time discovering – or rediscovering – the wine region that’s right on Melbourne’s doorstep.
It’s a packed program across the two days with winery and vineyard tours, wine education, museum and new release wine tastings, masterclasses, a plethora of food offerings from local caterers, food trucks, and vineyard restaurants, and loads of live entertainment on offer – all in a family-friendly, festival atmosphere. Also look out for produce market stalls and helicopter rides (Clyde Park) and classic car displays (McGlashan’s Estate).
As part of Toast to the Coast, several of the venues are hosting other local wineries on site, such as Leura Park Estate, which is hosting Finesse Winery, Yes said the Seal, Jack Rabbit Vineyard, and the Flying Brick Cider Co.
Venues with family-friendly spaces and activities ranging from giant chess to art spaces, farm animals and sandpits, include Barwon Ridge, Clyde Park, Moorabool Ridge, Basils Farm, Bellarine Estate, Oakdene, Wayawu Estate, and Mt Duneed Estate.
There are hop-on hop-off shuttle buses available, circulating between the venues, and morning and afternoon buses available to take guests to and from each region at the beginning and end of each day. (Just be sure to select the bus option you need when you purchase your Toast to the Coast ticket – and remember: there are no ticket sales on the day.)
‘Every year we have been fortunate with the weather and it’s such a good opportunity to bring together family and friends for the weekend,’ Scott Austin says. ‘All of the wineries want to provide a great experience to really showcase all that our region has to offer.’
What: Toast to the Coast 2018
Where: Geelong Wine Region
When: 3–4 November
More information: https://toasttothecoast.com.au/