Last weekend, we were treated to a two night escape to Victoria’s King Valley, tasting and wining our way around the region’s beautiful villages and meeting the very friendly and welcoming families who run the gourmet restaurants and boutique wineries.
Located approximately three hours north east of Melbourne, the King Valley has to be a bucket list location for anyone who considers themselves a foodie, or wants to treat themselves to a relaxing, pampering, gourmet High Country adventure, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The best Wineries in the King Valley
Victoria’s King Valley is an ideal destination for an indulgent weekend escape from the city. Known as our country’s premier Italian varietal wine producing region and for its recent history as pioneers of Prosecco in Australia, I like to refer to the King Valley as our own little slice of Italy, in the heart of the Victorian countryside.
The ultimate long lunch experience at Pizzini Wines
Pizzini Wines is a family-owned winery, specialising in the production of Italian wine varieties such as Pinot Grigio, Arneis, Prosecco, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.
Experiencing the Sangiovese e Salsicce long lunch at Pizzini Wines was without doubt one of the best winery experiences I’ve had in Australia (and I put up my hand to admit I’ve had more than a handful). The warming feast was celebrated with no less than 200 guests and included a range of gourmet dishes, starting with a delicious antipasto platter, right through to a ‘squeeze it in’ dessert.
The Pizzini family were whole-heartedly welcoming to everyone, with some table groups being publicly recognised for returning to the lunch for their 11th or 12th consecutive year – a true token of great food, great wine, great service and a great atmosphere! Not forgetting the wonderful live music, with more than half the room on there feet and dancing before 2pm… so much fun!
The winery is also home to the A tavola! Cooking School, run by their founder Katrina Pizzini, and the family also operate the Vineyard Accommodation on the estate and the nearby Mountain View Hotel in Whitfield. I’m looking forward to heading back one day to dapple in pasta making class; onto my bucket list it goes.
Degustation like royalty at Dal Zotto Wines
It’s easy for me to recognise, that Dal Zotto Wines has been built from lot’s of hard work, and lot’s of love and passion. Their philosophy begins with what is closest to their hearts – family; and is blended together by two other key elements, tradition and innovation.
Patriarch Otto Dal Zotto was born in Valdobbiadene in the Veneto region, home of Italy’s most famous sparkling wine, Prosecco. Otto and his family brought the passion for Prosecco to Australia, and pioneered it as a wine style synonymous with the King Valley. Their signature food style is savoury and so are their beautiful wines – showcased by their best varieties, the Sangiovese, Shiraz and Barbera.
We were welcomed with open arms (and hugs and kisses) by the Dal Zotto family to join them for their Kings and Queens of the Valley Degustation lunch on Sunday. It was no short of a food and wine extravaganza, set amongst a beautiful estate, where visitors young and old can feel at home amongst the vineyards and picturesque countryside. The lunch showcased ten incredible dishes, matched with ten of Dal Zotto’s most coveted wines – favourites of mine included the Adele capelli D’Angelo pasta and the Dal Zotto Nebbiola releases.
When you next visit the King Valley, be sure to put this winery at the top of your list. It’s home to a unique cellar door and their new Trattoria (open Thursday, Friday and on the weekend) and serves up all Dal Zotto wines and a menu of Italian-inspired seasonal and regional produce for you to enjoy. Be sure to keep an eye out for their wines on the menu when you are visiting some of our favourite bars in Melbourne too! Dal Zotto wines are fast becoming a Victorian institution!
King Valley Food and Wine Trail
Get ready to go on a journey of the senses and experience the best wineries in the King Valley.
Here’s my travel guide map to experiencing the best of the region’s wine and produce, and being inspired by the families who have built the local businesses with all their hearts and soul.
The King Valley Travel Guide
King Valley Balloon Festival
It was perfect timing heading to The King Valley on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, because it was also the inaugural event launch of the King Valley Balloon Festival. The Festival saw a mass of hot air balloons floating over the valley each day of the long weekend, and I can say that the incredible display was just as spectacular from the ground, and from above.
My weekend balloon injection started with the Brown Brothers Night Glow event, where all balloons participating in the festival were lit up in unison to the sounds of live commentary and great tunes on the Milawa airfield. It was a late night, followed by an early morning for me, waking before sunrise to head back to the airfield for my ride in a balloon. The flight was INCREDIBLE! It was my first time in a balloon, and I was a little nervous because I’m not all that great with heights. However, the ride was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Despite flying up to around 1000 feet, the floating motion is nothing like being in a plane or helicopter. It’s super smooth and super peaceful, just how you’d dream about walking on clouds… pure bliss!
I’d like to extend a sincere thank you to Goldrush Ballooning (who operate regular King Valley Balloon Flights from the Milawa Vineyard) for taking me up and above the beautiful King Valley skyline and onwards towards our Wangarrata outskirts landing site (aka paddock).
If I can give all you readers one hot tip, it would be to make sure you go up in a balloon with a friend, because although the ride is unlike anything you’ll ever encounter, it’s nothing compared to what it would be like experiencing a balloon flight with your bestie or a loved one by your side to recall the memories. I’ll be putting that experience on my to-do list for the near future! (I’m thinking that for my next balloon adventure, I’ll book a city flight with my husband? I’d love your suggestions on some other beautiful places to fly above in the comments below).
The best accommodation in the King Valley
It was an absolute pleasure being a guest of this beautiful hotel. Situated in the heart of the wine making district in the Milawa region, Lindenwarrah offers top notch service, as well as the highest quality food and wine offering in their restaurant (Restaurant Merlot) and in all their guest suites (say hello the world’s best wine stocked mini bar #wink).
Lindenwarrah is also located only a stones throw away from Brown Brothers Winery and within easy reach of the historic townships of Beechworth, Chiltern and Glenrowan, perfect for all you out there like me, who love a great road trip adventure. That’s right, a scenic drive with spectacular country and mountain views, and historical tales of old is right on your door step. Enquire with Lindenwarrah about a King Valley stay or make a booking by clicking here.
And a special thanks also to Lindenwarrah and the High Country wineries who welcomed us into their beloved businesses, so we could celebrate such a beautiful region.