South of Melbourne, you'll find the Geelong wine region. A straight run down the Westgate Highway, Geelong is home to more than 60 wineries and close to 50 cellar doors, which are all family-owned and operated.
The Geelong wine region is split into three subregions: the Moorabool Valley, the Bellarine Peninsula, and the Surf Coast. Each have different soils and conditions, along with distinct wine styles. The key varietals produced in the region are refined and complex pinot noir, chardonnay and shiraz.
Below, we introduce you to three must-visit cellar doors – Scotchmans Hill, Bellbrae Estate, and Austin's Wines. Add these wineries to your list.
Scotchmans HillScotchmans Hill is a producer of premium, cool-climate wines that has evolved for over 40 years. Scotchmans Hill was the first winery and cellar door on the Bellarine Peninsula, and has been a 5-star Halliday winery for more than 20 years.
The cellar door is open seven days a week, from 11.30am–4.00pm, for tastings and wine sales. Guests can enjoy a bottle of wine on the wine terrace and take in the spectacular views of the Bellarine Peninsula. The Scotchmans Hill team are serious winemakers who make serious wine. This ethos is reflected at the cellar door and during the tasting experience, which is led by very passionate and knowledgeable staff who take you on a journey through the exciting and innovative wines.
Winemaker Robin Brockett says: Our wines are made from grapes grown on the Bellarine (90 per cent are estate grown). This gives us great control over the quality we produce. Our vineyards sit prominently on the winery block at about 160 metres above sea level – this elevation helps moderate our climate.
I want to make wines that give great enjoyment when consumed and bring a little happiness to those who drink them. We get this brightness of fruit that translates into wine, which gives a moreish quality and makes you want to return for more. Although the wines drink well young, they have this wonderful ability to age well and reward cellaring.
Robin's must-try wine: Although chardonnay and pinot noir are what the region has been built on over the past few years, shiraz has made its mark. I'm very excited about the future of cool-climate shiraz in the region.
Local favourite spot: For awesome views, ambience and food, you can’t go past 360Q at the marina in Queenscliff. Looking for a great pub? The revamped Portarlington Pub is a must. For a winery restaurant, our Scotchmans Hill is a wonderful experience. And if you're after artisan breads and pastries Ket Baker is worth seeking out.
Find out more | 190 Scotchmans Road, Drysdale | (03) 5251 3176
Bellbrae EstateBellbrae Estate is the only vineyard and winery on the stunning Great Ocean Road. Just five minutes from the famous Bells Beach, Bellbrae Estate is the perfect place to begin your Surf Coast experience. Bellbrae specialises in cool-climate chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz/syrah from the winery's estate vineyards, which have ideal growing conditions for producing elegant wines.
Inside the cellar door, enjoy wine flights, wood-fired pizzas and wine pairing experiences that include two unique wine ranges.
The original vineyard was planted back in 1998. It was planted to pinot noir, shiraz, sauvignon blanc and viognier (one clone of each). In 2015, another two clones each of pinot noir and chardonnay were planted for the purpose of blending. Bellbrae Estate currently has 8ha of vines that produce around 42 tonnes of fruit, and a further 10–15 tonnes of local fruit are purchased to bolster stocks each year.
Winemaker David Crawford says: Our Longboard wines are fruit-driven, regional styles of classic varietals that are ready to drink now. They are perfectly matched with our relaxed outdoor picnic grove situated under the shade of 120-year-old Monterey Pine trees and accompanied by fresh wood-fired pizza offerings. Our Bellbrae Estate wines are the pinnacle of each vintage and are meant to age for years in bottle. They are showcased in our Winkipop Wine Pairing Experience, which gives guests the chance to sample our wines matched with tapas.
For most of the year guests can add an intimate barrel tasting to their experience. In 2020, we introduced another tier of wines – the Tetaz range (which was named after the original Swiss settler who owned the property). Only pinot noir sits under the Tetaz range at this stage. This pinot comes from the best parcel of our 25-year-old MV6 vines. The Tetaz Pinot Noir showcases the ability the region has to produce super premium wines that can go toe-to-toe with the best in the state.
David's must-try wine: While our pinot noir gets all the cred, I'm most excited about our chardonnay. As our vines age, we can push them harder in the vineyard and now use more artefact in the winemaking process (skins contact, MLF, lees contact, better oak).
Local favourite spot: We obviously have an affinity to Bells Beach. I remember hosting a wholesale morning, where we walked the cliff top walk from Jan Juc to Bells Beach, passing all the breaks whose names are on all our Bellbrae Estate wines. The walk finished at the Winkipop viewing platform with oysters and our Bellbrae Estate Sauvignon Blanc.
Find out more | 520 Great Ocean Road, Bellbrae | (03) 5264 8480
Austin's WinesThe Austin's cellar door is a vibrant, welcoming space just a 15-minute drive from Geelong. Guests can enjoy premium, award-winning wines while indulging in delicious food and taking in the views of the stunning Moorabool Valley.
A visit to Austin's would not be complete without dining from the Nama X Austin's menu. Try the kingfish with lime ponzu, the charred pork belly with gochujang sauce, and the Korean cabbage pancake – paired with the latest wine releases.
Guests can also book a seat at the tastings bar, where the Austin's staff will guide you through over 13 wines. Austin's is also home to expansive outdoor spaces and has a dog-friendly courtyard where you can reserve a table, or nab a picnic blanket and set up for an afternoon on the lawn. The Austin's cellar door is open Thursday–Sunday from 11am–5pm for wine, tastings and cheese, and from Friday–Sunday from 12–3pm for lunch (bookings are encouraged).
Head winemaker Dwayne Cunningham says: Austin’s flagship varieties are pinot noir and chardonnay. Our pinot gets a lovely earthy and rounded tannin from the fruit, with great depth of flavour, while retaining beautiful primary fruit characters of red cherries, raspberries and plums. Our chardonnay has lovely minerality with generosity and warmth. The fruit really speaks for itself, with a combination of grapefruit and lemon curd combined with riper citrus notes and beautiful length and crispness.
Our vineyard is based at Sutherlands Creek in the Moorabool Valley. We began planting in 1990 and initially focused on pinot noir. We now have eight different clones of pinot noir planted on site, which gives us amazing diversity in style of fruit. We have 150 acres under vine (90 are pinot noir). Now that we have some good vine age throughout the vineyard, along with clonal diversity, we are developing more interesting and complex varieties that highlight what our region can deliver.
Dwayne's must-try wine: Austin’s Pinot Noir – it’s the flagship wine in our range and gives you a snapshot of our style and what we want to achieve.
Favourite local spot: Geelong Cellar Door is a truly local wine bar and store in the heart of Geelong that offers a range of local wines, craft beers, ciders and cheeses. Sober Ramen is our favourite place for ramen and dumplings. The Kyn in Torquay is the perfect venue for lunch, dinner or an afternoon drink in the sun. And Boom Geelong is a wonderful contemporary art gallery.
Find out more | 870 Steiglitz Road, Sutherlands Creek | (03) 5281 1799