Beechworth wines to try

By Halliday Promotion

27 Sep, 2023

Beechworth, located in the north-east of Victoria, is a tiny-but-mighty cool-climate region with a rising reputation – and for good reason. Get to know these four Beechworth wineries and check out their wines to try. 

In the words of James Halliday, Beechworth is "a mere pocket handkerchief" compared to larger regions like Geelong. However, what this cool-climate region lacks in size it more than makes up for in winemaking prowess. Known for its chardonnay, shiraz, and pinot noir, Beechworth is planted to a wide array of varieties, spanning the full range of early to late-ripening grapes. 

The region isn't just famed for its wine though. Built during the gold rush of the 1800s, the Beechworth township is studded with National Trust-listed buildings, boutique shops and lush green trees, making it to the perfect getaway destination. If you're looking to visit, add these four Beechworth wineries to your itinerary.  

Fighting Gully Road

Mark Walpole

Vigneron and winemaker Mark Walpole says: Fighting Gully Road vineyard is located on the southern boundary of the Beechworth wine region, overlooking the Victorian Alps and the Alpine Valleys wine region below. Established in 1997, we grow a range of classical and emerging varieties, including chardonnay, syrah, sangiovese, and tempranillo. While neither organic nor biodynamic, we farm in a holistically sustainable way, aiming for the lightest footprint possible.

H. What do you love about making wine in Beechworth?
MW. The Beechworth wine region is unique in terms of elevation, soil, and climate. Being the country’s smallest GI, we experience very local weather conditions including regular wind and lower humidities. This reduces the risk of disease when compared to surrounding regions and creates an environment perfect for producing the highest-quality grapes and wine. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
MW. All our grapes are hand-harvested and chilled overnight before processing. As our sites produce fruit high in phenolics, we handle both whites and reds very gently. Red wines are pumped over to extract the perfect amount of colour and tannin, with little plunging being practiced. Each variety is handled in a way to create a style typical of its country of origin while expressing Beechworth regionality. 

Wine to try

FIghting Gully Road bottleshot

2019 Fighting Gully Road Syrah

Open-fermented, 35 per cent whole bunches, two per cent viognier skins. Matured in 600L thick staved demi-muids. A medium-bodied cool-climate syrah, with granitic and dark coffee notes, black cherry and white pepper, with delicately fine and silky tannins extending through the length of the wine. 

Best enjoyed: This syrah pairs perfectly with roasted lamb or grilled beef. Alternatively, grilled portobello mushrooms, or spiced lentil curry would also complement the white pepper and spice in the wine. Enjoyed best after decanting for 30+ minutes before pouring into larger bowled, slightly tapered opening glassware. 

RRP $70 | Drink to 2030 | Shop this wine |

Indigo Vineyard

Indigo Vineyard

Owner Rob Hawkings says: Indigo Vineyard was established in 1999 by myself and a small group. After a year-long, Australia-wide search, we selected the Indigo Vineyard site and the first vines were planted. We only produce a small amount of wine each year, and what is made is of the highest quality – a reflection of this special site combined with careful winemaking. 

Vines on the Indigo Vineyard are predominantly planted on rootstock to protect from phylloxera. The vineyards soils range from granitic sands to clay loams. Most of the vineyard is undulating north-south and east facing, ensuring maximum light interception and minimising the harsh afternoon summer sun. 

H. What do you love about making wine in Beechworth?
RH. Beechworth is a unique wine region is in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. Its altitude, warm days and cool nights produce wine with natural balance and elegance. Our climate and soils see a number of producers making world class wines, and with 30 makers in such a small region we have a tight-knit group willing to share knowledge.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
RH. Our key focus is on the vineyard. It’s all the little decisions made throughout the year that have the biggest impact on the final wine. Most of our grapes are handpicked so deciding when to pick is very important. Our approach is to have minimum winemaker intervention, providing a subtle touch that allows the soils and unique character of the region to be displayed.

Wine to try

Indigo Vineyard bottleshot

2022 Indigo Vineyard Secret Village Chardonnay

The bouquet is restrained with white peach and hints of citrus and crisp pineapple in the fruit aromas. The use of French oak is very subtle, but barrel fermentation has given the wine a touch of creamy yeast and matchstick to add complexity. The palate is wonderfully balanced: a seamless combination of elegant Beechworth chardonnay fruit with plenty of depth, the complexity of barrel fermentation and the classic mineral, crisp finish typical of Beechworth’s granite soils.

Best enjoyed: Pairs well with kingfish – the kingfish and the chardonnay both match each other for richness and complexity, and the crispness of the wine is well suited to the texture of kingfish. Serve the wine at 11 to 15 degrees with roast potatoes and broccoli gratin on the side. 

RRP $75 | Drink to 2027 | Shop this wine |

Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown

Vignerons Schmolzer and Brown

Winemakers Tessa Brown and Jeremy Schmölzer say: We are located just outside the tiny historical orcharding village of Stanley, 10 minutes south of Beechworth. We have the highest altitude vineyard in the Beechworth GI, with chardonnay, riesling, syrah and nebbiolo growing at a decidedly chilly 820m elevation. We are therefore very much cool climate and high altitude specialists, making wines hopefully of great fineness and precision, and without much in the way of winemaking artifice.

H. What do you love about making wine in Beechworth?
TB & JS. We love the way the region speaks so strongly through all the wines we and our friends make in the GI. From 350m up to us at 820m, regional character is irrepressible and, despite our differences, we have a cohort of essentially like-minded vignerons working in the area. Although we all have personal styles and idiosyncrasies writ into our products, there is undeniably a thread linking us all that speaks of the region before anything else. 

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
TB & JS. We have a vineyard-led way of going about things. We chose our site so that we wouldn’t have to worry too much about extremes of heat, lots of water usage, or too much winemaking intervention. Therefore, the little changes and tweaks we might want to make with respect to style are usually nutted out as viticultural interactions during the growing season. 

Wine to try

Vignerons Schmolzer & Brown bottleshot

2021 Vignerons Schmölzer & Brown Thorley Syrah

A deep but clear maroon-purple appearance. The nose flips between olive brine and cold clay, with more ascendant violet and brambly floral and fruit-driven characters. With time in glass, a ripple of pleasing green stalkiness emerges, as does white pepper and macerated blue-purple fruits. The palate is all blackberry compote, unsweetened and vital, and the tannins are rolling and layered, silty and emery at the same time. Cool pepperiness builds to length. 

Best enjoyed: Pairs perfectly with aged beef cooked rare to medium, roasted lamb shoulder and other bolder red meat dishes where the accompaniments and sauces aren’t hugely sweet or salty. It would also match very well with a wedge of Pyengana cheddar or other aged semi-hard cheese after the main meal’s conclusion. Serve at 14–16 degrees in a larger bowled glass.

RRP $58 | Drink to 2033 | Shop this wine |

Willem Kurt

Willem Kurt Vineyard

Winemaker Dan Balzer says: I established Willem Kurt Wines in the vintage of 2012, with the aim of making premium handcrafted wines just the way I like them. In 2017, we managed to secure an exceptional parcel of land at an elevation of about 600m, just south of the Beechworth township, and began planting the vineyard that year. As of 2022, all wines are entirely estate-grown. We built the winery in 2021 and have recently opened our cellar door. The wines are very much an expression of the region, site and season, created in a style that I feel is complementary to the fruit.

H. What do you love about making wine in Beechworth?
DB. Beechworth has a beautiful continental climate with warm summer days and cool nights. I believe this allows the Beechworth region to ripen many varieties really well without compromising the wonderful cool climate characteristics that our wines display. I also really like the village vibe that comes with working and living in a tiny wine region made up mostly of small, family-owned producers who focus on creating super premium, boutique style wines.

H. How do you approach the winemaking process?
DB. I have a very minimal handling approach to winemaking, with a focus on allowing the wine to showcase the variety and the season in which it was grown. Over my career I have steadily done less and less in the winery, and nowadays spend most of my time in the vineyard, ensuring that I grow the highest quality fruit possible.

Wine to try 

Willem Kurt bottleshot

2021 Willem Kurt Chardonnay

Bright fresh fruit characters of grapefruit, lemon and nectarines, coupled with complex notes of lemon curd, crème brûlée and a hint of brown spice. Subtle oak characters are beautifully integrated. This is a textured wine with excellent concentration and length on the palate.

Best enjoyed: Serve with chicken or fish with a cream based sauce. Enjoy with friends!

RRP $42 | Drink to 2030 | Shop this wine |