Rutherglen’s winning wine trail

You don't expect to meet the CEO of an iconic, family-run Aussie business wearing high heels at a bar three hours northeast of Melbourne. But Eliza Brown – one of three fourth-generation siblings that own and run Rutherglen's All Saints Estate, St Leonard's Vineyard and Mount Ophir Estate – was eager to bring a Melbourne-style wine bar to the region. Five years later, Thousand Pound Wine Bar has won hearts with an exciting menu and inviting decor. "We can't assume that people are going to drop their standards when they leave Melbourne," says Brown. "Plus, we wanted a sophisticated experience, where women can get dressed up, come in and relax." Known for its award-winning muscat – a fortified wine categorised in part by age (but not exclusively so) - the town's welcome sign reads, "Sydney may have a nice harbour, but Rutherglen has a Great Port". And if you spot Brown at her bar (where she has reimagined the tipple in a duck liver and muscat parfait entrée), her local tips are just as valuable as the town's Gold Rush history.

Timeless wineries

Rutherglen is one of the oldest wine regions in Victoria, established in the 1850s. Jones Winery, founded by German Fritz Ruhe in 1860, and now owned by the third generation of Jones', is one of Brown's top picks (varieties include malbec, durif, shiraz and muscat). "It's my favourite on a Sunday afternoon with my family or friends who come up. And it's good because then Mandy has to do the dishes!" she jokes. "It's rustic and cozy in winter and in summer you can sit outside. It's just gorgeous." Brown also recommends Lake Moodemere Estate, which has produced wine (cab sauv, shiraz, riesling and more) and lamb (order it at the restaurant) for more than 160 years and six generations. It overlooks a natural billabong hugged by red gum forest. "The family is behind the counter, they're on the floor talking to people; all the generations are there. You walk in and immediately feel like you are a part of the family."

Gourmet events

All Saints Estate takes part in numerous annual events, such as Tastes of Rutherglen, held in early March, and Winery Walkabout, taking place over the June long weekend. The Rutherglen Country Fair is also worth a visit. One of the largest regional markets in Victoria, it's held on the Sunday of the Queen's Birthday long weekend and features over 300 stallholders with grape stomping competitions to enjoy between bargain shopping.

Toast to two borders

Where else can you spend the day toasting in two states? The mighty Murray River runs behind All Saints Estate, but technically Victoria ends on the bank and turns into New South Wales in the water. Although not advertised on the website, on warm days Brown takes to the river and visitors can follow suit if they arrange it in advance. "We go and get a few blow-up boats from the two-dollar shop, throw an Esky on it, fill it up with wine and ice and float down the river for an afternoon," she says.

Where to stay

Something fancy: Mount Ophir Estate, a 140-acre farm and winemaking facility dating back to 1891, restored by the Brown family. Sleep in the three-storey French provincial tower (from $550).

The excerpt is from an article originally published on, written by Sofia Levin and sponsored by Visit Victoria. Read the full article and watch the videohere.