King, Ovens and Alpine Valleys
The high altitude valleys of Eastern Victoria are about three hours drive from the state capital, Melbourne. Situated in the heart of the Alpine Way, the region was the home of "The Man from Snowy River", the horseman immortalised in the A.B. (Banjo) Patterson's classic Australian poem.
After the Second World War, the region was settled by many Europeans (mainly Italians). These hard-working migrants established a thriving farming community. The rich, fertile soils and high rainfall provided an ideal climate for growing quality crops. The most prolific plantings were tobacco, but other crops such as hops and wine grapes also grew well.
Today tobacco and hops farming has all but disappeared, and the region is becoming one of the more important cool climate grape growing areas in Australia. More than 2,500 acres (1,000 hectares) are planted out to premium grape varieties, with some vineyards planted in granite based soils on mountain slopes more than 800 metres above sea level. Early autumn mornings see these vineyards hidden by low cloud that shrouds the nearby mountains.
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The Beechworth region has long been recognised as a classic Shiraz growing region. Vineyards survive on tight gravely soils, frosts are always a threat, and the summers can be blistering hot and blizzardly cold in winter. Only the strong survive to produce low-yielding grapes of intense flavours.
Situated in the North East Victoria zone in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, the region has a cool, sub-alpine, frosty climate. The soils vary with elevation, from the flood plain in the Ovens Valley to an altitude of 552 metres at Beechworth.
Some vines were planted in the early 1800s to produce wine for the men and women who flocked to the goldfields to find their fortune and hopefully keep whatever they found from the marauding bushrangers … notably the legendary Ned Kelly. Today’s vineyards were planted out from the 1970s.
The town of Beechworth and surrounding districts are steeped in the rich folk-lore of the Australian bush. Beechworth proudly retains its heritage with many of the original buildings being restored to their former glory and have been registered on the National Heritage of Australia registry.