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Thursday 1 September 2022

West Gippsland's pinot surprise

West Gippsland doesn’t always feature on lists of top wine regions, but guest writer Roderick Eime ventures off-radar to sample some gourmet fare east of Melbourne.

It all started over a superb porterhouse steak at the Garfield Hotel in Victoria’s West Gippsland district, a kind of no-mans-land between Greater Gippsland and Melbourne’s easternmost suburbs. 

We’d explored the village of Garfield’s main street during the day, popping into the quaint lolly shop, smart homewares emporium, superb organic bakery, gourmet cafe and even the day spa, culminating in a terrific nosh at the local.

Served with our perfectly cooked meat was the only local red wine I could find on the list among the predictable mass-market offerings. Cannibal Creek Vineyard isn’t a winery that leaps out at you but, constrained for choice, I selected the 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir to accompany our beef and lamb shanks. And what a find!

A random pinot noir can often be limp and watery; indicative of the grape's notoriously finicky character, but Cannibal Creek nailed it with a rich, spicy and luscious wine that held up superbly against the flavoursome meat and dense peppercorn sauce.

So, you guessed it, Cannibal Creek Vineyard was top of the list for the following day’s excursions.

Cannibal Creek Vineyard Tasting Room (RE)

Even on a damp and sultry weekday, the winery’s modern cellar door was half full of eager wine buffs and it was here we met the co-owner, Kirsten Hardiker, in front of the tasting room’s open fire. 

A boundary line’s stone throw past the Tynong Quarry, north off Highway One is where Kirsten and partner, Patrick, (main pic above) set up the vineyard 25 years ago.

Kirsten Hardiker
“While we didn’t set out to win awards, reviews on our first pinot noir in the year 2000 gave us the added confidence in the vineyard’s potential and the confidence to continue,” Kirsten tells us. And continue they did!

Apart from the pinot, visitors can taste and buy from an impressive range of varieties including sparkling, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and a stunning, newly-added rosé. 

As a South Australian, I cast a particularly critical eye on the cabernet sauvignon and am pleased to report it stands up well against our prize variety.

The French-inspired restaurant is open Friday to Sunday only serving mainly locally-sourced produce. The braised ox cheeks would make for a wonderfully hearty winter feast.

West Gippsland and the towns of Bunyip, Tynong, Garfield and Nar Nar Goon are an easy drive out along the Princes Highway from Melbourne and are also served by train along the Gippsland Line.


Cannibal Creek Vineyard
Winery, Restaurant and Cellar Door
260 Tynong North Road [Google Map Link]
Tynong North, Victoria 3813
03 5942 8380 or 0438 518 506

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