Raise a glass for this birthday

There is a castle in Scotland once owned and restored by the late Queen Mother. It is now called the Castle of Mey, but it has had other names and other owners. In the early 1800s the carpenter and joiner there had a son. An adventurous one it seems. In 1852 twenty-three year old George Sutherland Smith travelled from Caithness to the young colony of Australia settling finally in 1864 on the banks of the Murray River at Wahgunyah in North Eastern Victoria.

He grew grapes and had his first vintages during the Gold Rush.

In 1873 one of his wines went back to the Old Dart, the first to win a Gold Medal at the London Exhibition. Obviously much impressed by his early years in a castle he modelled his winery and cellar on his faraway birthplace. The turreted and towered ‘castle’ is now home to a thriving new generation.

All Saints Estate this year celebrates its 150th birthday.  [pullquote]The turreted and towered ‘castle’ is now home to a thriving new generation.[/pullquote]

The historic winery makes white and red table wines from its home vineyards and nearby St Leonards Estate which it also owns. Some are among Australia’s favourite varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz – but this district is also a happy home for a couple of lesser known European grapes, the white Marsanne and the red Durif. The vines are many decades old and the current winemakers have the heart and the history to bring out their best.

All Saints Estate Old Vine Shiraz

Some are among Australia’s favourite varieties – Chardonnay, Riesling and Shiraz – but this district is also a happy home for a couple of lesser known European grapes, the white Marsanne and the red Durif

As the Estate is in the Rutherglen district it also has a superb history of its own fortified wines. These sweet golden brown liquids are unique to this part of the world and one glass is a heavenly way to conclude a meal. The Great Hall once the largest barrel storage space in the Southern Hemisphere, is lined with 100 year old barrels and casks containing rare and luscious muscats and tokays. Some of these wines are almost a century old and you can buy them for $1000 a bottle. Younger wines are easier to swallow.

All of this heritage in now in the hands of fourth generation wine professionals. Eliza, Angela and Nicholas Brown stepped up when their father Peter, one of the original Brown Brothers of nearby Milawa, died tragically. Between them they supervise the administration, marketing and winemaking.

All saints Estate Eliza, Nicholas, Angela Brown

CEO Eliza Brown says: “We are honoured to be entrusted with a century-and-a-half of tradition while at the same time employing a very modern attitude to winemaking and business. Dad would be proud.”

 

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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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