Balgownie Estate & Sandhurst Ridge Winery

Balgownie Estate
Hermitage Rd
Maiden Gully
03 5449 6222

Sandhurst Ridge Winery
156 Forest Drive
03 5435 2534

Having an afternoon off, I decided to go acquaint myself with some local wineries. Was actually hoping to visit a number of them, but you will see why at the end of this post why I did not. To begin with it was 1pm – this is way past my lunch time (stomach was non-stop growling). Therefore first vineyard stop had to be one with a “food” menu, opens on a weekday and within 10 minutes drive from Bendigo city-centre. So Balgownie Estate Café it was!

Balgownie’s, as one of the pioneers of commercial winemaking in the Bendigo region (est. 1969), alongside producing various reds and whites, it also doubles as a Bendigo wine museum with quite a few interesting decorations, memorabilia and billboards. Having decided on having Panini, I looked at the wine list and thought, what the heck I should go “free” wine-taste and then decide what I should have (smart idea!). So, I go ahead on an empty stomach to taste …

Balgownie Estate Wines:

  • Pinot gris 2010 – yarra valley
  • Pinot noir 2008 – yarra valley
  • Shiraz 2008 – Black label (Medium bodied, distinct vanilla and spicy aroma)
  • Cabernet Merlot 2008 – Black label (softer red with a cabernet component, evident aftertaste of spices & astringency)
  • Sparkling Shiraz 2008 – Black label
  • Shiraz 2008 – estate (still a bit raw and harsh, very high in tannins – needs a few more years as indicated by the winery assistant)
  • Cabernet sauvignon

Then after trying those I decided on having a glass of Cabernet Merlot. I had totally forgot I was having a Panini, so thought CRAP: red wine + bread = disaster??? Ah well anyhow, the Panini was filled with a smoky prosciutto, sun-dried tomato pesto (a slightly tart version with a smaller component of basil) and very stringy (but not rubbery) cheese. The wine wasn’t a perfect marriage or contrast, but did seem to enhance the acidity of the pesto and didn’t overwhelm the flavours. So wasn’t such a disaster of a choice after all. *Whilst writing this post, I really struggled with wine terminology, so I did a little followup research into wine tasting, so there will be a short wine-tasting post coming soon*

Panini - ooo stretchy cheese

So now that I was filled up with lots of alcohol and some Panini, off to another winery: Sandhurst Ridge Winery.

Sandhurst Ridge was founded by four brothers who’d grown up with wine — making it and enjoying it as a natural part of living in a large immigrant Italian family”. Their wines have Year after year been awarded five stars by James Halliday (renowned Australian wine critic). One of the family, George Greblo, who came out to serve me was very enthusiastic to introduce their range of wines, explaining how they were made and the conditions that affected particular vintages. He was also very enthusiastic for me to try all their wines…

Sandhurst Ridge Winery

  • Heathcote shiraz 2005 (using borrowed grapes from another Yarra Valley vineyard it lacked the spicy kick of their own estate versions)
  • Fringe shiraz 2005
  • Shiraz 2004
  • Reserve Shiraz 2005 (primarily barrelled in French oak, it had a sweet vanilla scent with an edgy spice to it – my personal favourite amongst the shiraz)
  • Shiraz 2005
  • Shiraz 2006
  • Shiraz 2000 (medium body, too soft for my liking)
  • Nebbiolo 2008 (Italian variety – light coloured wine, savoury notes)
  • Merlot 2006 (very soft)
  • Cabernet sauvignon 2004
  • Fringe Shiraz Cabernet 2008 (Strong full bodied component of shiraz with added floral notes from the Cabernet – I quite liked this one)

Clearly as evidence by how many wines I tried – even with food in the stomach – I was feeling slightly intoxicated. So, what does one do: laze around the winery enjoying the scenery and cool breeze, and then sleep in the car! Not sure if my judgement on wine quality was alcohol influenced (ironically it was the last one that I tried). Anyways will see whether the Fringe Shiraz Cabernet was worth my $20 when I open it on a sober day =).

Interesting facts re Bendigo Wineries:

Balgownie Estate - winery cafe on Urbanspoon

5 Responses to “Balgownie Estate & Sandhurst Ridge Winery”
  1. Agnes says:

    Ha, my wine terminology is terrible too. I’m normally limited to adjectives like: red, white, wet and drinkable. 😉

  2. Smita says:

    Oooh the Fringe Shiraz Cabernet sounds good! I can’t wait to visit all the wineries around here!

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  1. […] on September 16, 2010 · Leave a Comment  After my attempt at writing up my post on Balgownie Estate & Sandhurst Ridge Winery, I decided I needed to move beyond my very non-descriptive terminology – this is high in tannins, […]

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  • Food RATING scale

    Unpleasant: damn upset my desire to eat

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    Yummy: a pleasant experience

    Yummy +1: mouth-watering like rain

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