Geelong

Round the bend from Melbourne is the pretty, coast hugging region of Geelong. It sits pretty much opposite the fancy pants of Mornington Peninsula, but in recent years has been holding it's own with the ever hungry and thirsty throngs seeking excellent local produce and a thriving wine industry, located in a friendly wine tourism catchment. Grapes were grown here back in the 1800s but the hiccup of the pest phylloxera all but ruined the developing industry. Enter the swinging 1960s and planting began again in earnest, with family owned wine producers following suit.

These days the region still upholds that family winery appeal. Though the families have grown and production has increased, the big end of town has mainly stayed out of the area. The patchwork of vineyards are bound by three sub-regions, Surf Coast, Moorabool Valley and the Bellarine Peninsular. The region is surprisingly cool, which allows wines to develop excellent natural acidity. The result is restrained wines of great purity.

The focus in the region is similar to the Mornington Peninsula. Geelong boasts excellent Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Shiraz with interest gaining for relative newcomer styles for the region, like variations of Pinot Gris/Grigio and Riesling. Style also varies greatly across the sub-regions, influenced not only by boutique vignerons, but micro-climates, soil types and aspects. Characteristic for the region is power of wines, intense colours and depth of flavour. These are not meek versions of the varieties.

As wine tourism flourishes, aspiring visitors are getting the hang of putting aside Geelong township's rough exterior and embracing the coastlines, beaches and rolling hills and dales. The wines speak for themselves, sitting in an upper echelon of Australia's drinking register, and affordable options have hit their straps in the past 10 years. While the region hasn't had the spit shine of their shiny cousins across Port Phillip at Mornington, Geelong has equal vinous appeal.

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