is in the Pyrenees region of Central Victoria, on the Sunraysia Highway,
seven kilometres south of the town of Avoca.
Shiraz is the
signature grape of the region. Locally produced Shirazes are celebrated
for their complexity, fullness and richness of texture. However, the
Pyrenees is also home to a range of both red and white varietals, including
Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and premium sparkling
wine region, which stretches from just outside Waubra on the Sunraysia
Highway in the south through St Arnaud, takes its name from the picturesque
hills that form a southern extension to the Great Dividing Range outside
of Avoca. These hills were named "The Pyrenees" by explorer
and Surveyor General of NSW, Major Thomas Mitchell, in 1836, on the
cusp of European settlement.
Until the discovery
of gold in the Pyrenees Ranges in 1849, the region was sought as grazing
land by squatters from as far as Sydney and Tasmania. The Victorian
Goldrush of the 1850s gave rapid birth and prosperity to the town of
Avoca, named by Mitchell after the Vale of Avoca in County
Wicklow, Ireland. Avoca thrives today as the heart of the Pyrenees winegrowing
sprang up almost overnight following the discovery of gold in 1859.
Within a week 3000 hopeful diggers descended upon the area, and by mid-1860
Lamplough was a thriving township of about 16,000 inhabitants, boasting
numerous hotels, billiard rooms, schools and churches. The town disappeared
just as quickly when the gold ran out, and the rush moved to Moonambel
in late 1860. Today little is left of the town, as is the case with
so many of the gold rush settlements.
While the Pyrenees
first vineyard was planted in the late 1880s, the economic depressions
of the 1890s and 1930s, together with the two world wars, brought wine
production in the Pyrenees region to a grinding halt. It wasn't until
the 1960s that viticulture and wine making resumed in the area.
Yet the suitability
of the Pyrenees for the cultivation of vineyards was noted as early
as 1864, when the Avoca Mail prophesised that viticulture had the potential
of becoming an industry almost indigenous to the district.
In 1886, the Australian
Wine Association heard from a Mr Bladier "that the ground which
has produced the gold will produce the best wine …indeed, to the
recent time the auriferous districts have proved the most favourable
for the production of good wines..."
And in 1889, Italian
born and trained Romeo Bragato, appointed by the government as viticultural
expert, visited the area and concluded that Avoca was better suited to
the cultivation of vines than most districts in the colony.
of natural climatic, geographic and geologic conditions make the Pyrenees
ideal for producing wine, and since the 1960s the region has experienced
a viticultural renaissance. Today, there are over twenty vineyards producing
wine under their own label, and the Pyrenees district is recognised
by the Australian and international markets as one of the premium wine
producing regions of Australia.