I must be a country girl at heart. There’s something about smaller towns which get me every time. The feeling of space, the country air, good ol’ country hospitality – it’s sometimes nice to get away from the daily grind of the city, escape the traffic and be in the slow lane for a while.
Snaking its way through the Victorian countryside, the Murray River sees much diversity in flora and fauna on its banks. The picturesque St. Leonard’s Vineyard is located in a loop of the Murray River, in the tiny town of WahgunyaFor most of the year the waters are fast flowing and mountain cold which gives the vineyard a unique micro climate of its own. And it always feels a little cooler than other vineyards nearby.
Whether you’re looking to have a casual lunch, wine tasting or just soaking in the peace and serenity, this is the winery to visit on the Rutherglen wine trail. Follow your nose to the cellar door from the car park and you’ll discover a grand entrance full of 100 year old wooden foudres, holding maturing fortified wine. There’s also plenty of antique winemaking equipment on display and a board which documents the vineyard’s history.
The cellar door is the perfect way to start the day. Take time to be guided through a full wine flight, starting with their sparkling wine through to their full-bodied durifs and fortifieds. St Leonards Vineyard have some really distinct wines since the lower temperatures draw out the growing season, maximising the development of intense fruit flavours. The soil of the vineyard is also another big point of difference, being on a sand loam over red clay which enables the vine to produce fruit which has a real elegance with very lifted aromatics.
There’s a great mix of classics and more curious varieties like the Orange Muscat and Cabernet Franc at St Leonards. What I love the most about this winery is the lack of ego and pompery. Staff are knowledgeable and passionate about what they do, explaining the wine process in simple terms, avoiding the uncomfortable “wine wank” associated with some cellar doors.
The grounds at St Leonards are beautiful, attracting a diverse crowd. On our visit, kids are playing hide and seek, a group of ladies are having a weekend escape from their families and couples bask in the sunshine on the lawns.
Serving up delicious rustic fare, the St Leonards Vineyard Cafe is the place to go for a casual laid back lunch. Think pulled pork spring rolls, cheese and antipasto platters, or for something a little more substantial sink your teeth into tender lamb koftas or battered fish and chips. Set up a picnic rug on the rolling lawns or perch at one of their outdoor tables soaking up the sunshine with a glass of wine.
On the first Saturday of the month, St Leonards Vineyard hosts Music on the Murray where rotating artists perform on the grounds. It’s a great atmosphere and just adds to the charm of the place.
St Leonards Vineyard
A 201 St Leonards Rd, Wahgunyah VIC 3687
T (02) 6035 2222