Geez you can get drunk traveling around Rutherglen. With fortified wines being the premier style of the region, it takes a lot to get past the intensely sticky, dense, complex wines that sprout from just about every cellar door in the region. Staggering between the wineries, you get a sense of immense family history, if you keep your wits about you. The area is populated by some of Australia's best known and ongoing family wine concerns, and maintains its focus on the fortifieds, the wines that pretty much formed the basis for our modern wine industry.
Rutherglen is best known for its Muscats and Tokays – but now, due to international naming restrictions, Tokay is known as Topaque? Confusing? Sure. Just think about it in the same way that you can't call sparkling wine in Australia ‘Champagne’. Likewise, wines that were once named as ‘Sherry’ in Australia are now called Apera. New names, old styles. And Rutherglen is steeped in history. Over 150 years of history.
And the region isn't limited to the fortified wines. Oh no. Rutherglen is also a region known for big, powerful red wines and super sticky dessert wines. The region benefits from very warm growing conditions in the north east of Victoria and almost uniformly rejects the current trend for wines of delicacy, opting for the concentration and richness provided by ripe grapes.
The region itself is undergoing a genuine renaissance – cellar doors, restaurants, events and wine related tourism are all high on the agenda, with festivals celebrating the food and wine offering of the region.