Wine Italian style in the King Valley

I had been meaning to go to the grape growing King Valley in the alpine region of Victoria for many years, in particular after I learnt that a lot of Italian grape varietals were grown there and many Italian style wines produced with great success. My husband and I went there a few weekends ago to find a lush green landscape, with vines just starting to bud after the wet winter.

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Although I had read about it, I was quite unprepared for how beautiful it was. As soon as I arrived, even before the car had stopped, I wanted to return. Clearly this was a good sign!

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There are a large number of wineries there. In fact it is known as Prosecco Road. Many wineries have Italian names such as Pizzini, Dal Zotto, Bettio, Francesco, Ciccone, Bergamin and grow Italian grapes including Prosecco, Arneis, Savagnin, Prosecco, Moscato, Barbera, Sangiovese just to name a few. You won’t just find Chardonnay and Shiraz there!

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We stayed in a house owned by the Pizzini family in the tiny town of Whitfield and enjoyed a fabulous meal at the pub. Unfortunately there was also a Hen’s night and a Buck’s night in the restaurant on the Friday night when we were there. The waiter was terribly apologetic after a chorus of “skoll, skoll” (followed by the bride-to-be drinking a vast quantity of alcohol). We all breathed a sigh of relief when they left. The meal though was lovely and I believe the only place to eat right in the town centre (though there are many wineries with restaurants). The next day when we were visiting wineries, the cellar door staff all knew about what had happened at the Whitfield pub the previous night – word clearly gets around quickly in the tiny town and the valley!

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Visiting wineries is hugely enjoyable, especially when you are not the designated driver. I fell in love with the wines at Chrismont and promptly joined their wine club. My favorite wines were the La Zona range of Petit Manseng, the Marzemino Frizzante, the Rosato Mezzanotte and the Fragolino. I bought a case of wine and look forward to receiving the next dozen in time for Christmas. When we were visiting Pizzini, there was a cooking class running which you could see through the window peering in from the tasting room. Katrina Pizzini invited me in to have a look at what they were doing which looked to be lots of fun.

We had lunch at Gracebrook Vineyards, which boasts a farm with goats, geese, pigs and roosters, that were more than happy to pose for my photos. Mark had a delicious risotto with asparagus, lemon and mint there, which I have been trying to replicate (with only moderate success).

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Whitfield, the small township in the King Valley is about a 2 hour drive from Melbourne and not far from the town of Wangaratta. I highly recommend a visit soon to enjoy their fantastic wine and great country hospitality as well as some pretty spectacular views from the surrounding hills.

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9 Comments

  • albert gnaccarini says:

    Lucky you Paola!

    I know the King Valley quite well having spent quite a deal of time up there for work and I agree, there are some fabulous wines in the region. There’s also a few good vinyards around Myrtleford and Bright. It’s good to see that all that former tobacco growing country isn’t going to waste!

    I particulalry like a sparkling shiraz made by the Michellini winery from Myrtleford. It reminds me very much of the Refosco my uncle had when I visited him in San Vito al Tagliamento many years ago. Both are cold climate grapes with tight little bunches of deep dusty purple berries that produce a marvellous wine, full bodied and with just a hint of fizz. Served slightly chilled with peahes or strawberries, it’s perfect for summer. Mmmm!?…wouldn’t mind some now, just knocked off from work!

    Cheers,
    Albert

  • albert gnaccarini says:

    Yes, I was lucky enoufh to have spent about two months up there overall I guess. Mostly at around a week or two at a time and during both summer and autumn seasons so I got the chestnut/walnut season in as well as the cherry season! I can attest to the fact that the fizzy, full bodied red goes down equally well with both!

    You’re right, it’s a gorgeous place.

    Cheers.

    Albert

  • […] In memory of my wonderful day in Venezia at the Rialto Market, I would like to share with you Francesco’s recipe for eggplant with a tomato sauce (melanzane in tecia). The eggplant is cut into thin rounds, fried and then topped with a rich tomato and parsley sauce made from fresh tomatoes. This simple summer dish is perfect with some baked ricotta (my recipe below), a slice of crusty bread and a glass of crisp white wine, such as the La Zona Pinot Grigio that I have been enjoying since my visit to the King Valley. […]

  • Rosalba Malgioglio says:

    The very beautiful King Valley!! Grazie Paola, for these gorgeous photos, as they invoke so many happy memories for me. I grew up in the Valley along with so many other Italian families, who had tobacco farms, and back then it was a busy little community. We always had fresh produce and plus some!. Sadly many families have since moved but it still remains a beautiful place, I visit often, and look forward to a long weekend so I get to spend an extra day. I only wish could bottle the clean crisp air and bring it to Melbourne, but I’ll settle for the wine instead 🙂 

  • Thanks for stopping by and posting a comment. What wonderful memories you must have of growing up in such a beautiful idyllic place

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