The Pyrenees region of Australia — not to be confused with the Pyrenees mountain range that separates France and Spain — offers beautiful views, fresh country air and a welcoming climate for winegrape growing.
Game meats, freshwater fish, honey and ewe’s milk yogurt make up some of the regional fare, much of which is enjoyed in the local restaurants, hotels and cafes.
But the Pyrenees isn’t just about food; it’s also known for its wines. As one of the great wine regions of Western Victoria, a visit to the Pyrenees is not complete without a game of petanque at one of the vineyards. It’s a perfect game for wine lovers: easy to play even with a glass of fine wine in hand.
While primarily known for its red wines today, the renaissance of the Pyrenees region began quite differently. It originally was selected by the French Remy Martin Group in the 1960s as an area suitable for the production of brandy. When the brandy market collapsed, the group looked to another area of its expertise: sparkling wine.
That first vineyard now is named Blue Pyrenees Estate, and in the ensuing years has been joined by some serious players, including Taltarni, Mount Avoca and Warrenmang.
Taltarni owner John Goelet, a direct descendant of the Guestier wine merchant family of Bordeaux, discovered and purchased Taltarni Vineyard in 1972 after conducting a worldwide search for a site comparable to the great vineyards of Bordeaux.
Mount Avoca is just outside Avoca, one of the first towns to be part of the Australian Gold Rush in the 1850s that shaped early Victoria.
Warrenmang Vineyard and Resort, nestled in the Moonambel Valley two hours northwest of Melbourne, has been a hidden treasure for enthusiasts of fine food and wine for many years. It’s also a destination for nature lovers. At dusk and dawn, dozens of kangaroos come out of the bush to drink at the waterholes, and there’s also an abundance of bird life.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are the star varieties today, but the Pyrenees also produces some fine Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. The gravelly soils, hot summers, cool nights and low rainfall are responsible for the distinctive flavors, great depth and instant appeal of the wines — appealing wines from an irresistible wine region.
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If the kangaroos and bird life at Warrenmang Vineyard and Resort sound appealing, but you can’t get to Australia anytime soon, we’ll have a closer-to-home wine and wildlife option for you tomorrow.