The spectacular landscape of the Grampians in Western Victoria has long attracted lovers of the great outdoors, but the surrounding region is also becoming increasingly popular with connoisseurs of fine food and wine. The granite-rich soil and climate of cold nights and warm afternoons make the area perfect for growing grapes, and it has a rich winemaking history dating back to the mid-1800s. The region is also agriculturally diverse, with farms producing everything from olives, fruit and vegetables to meats, cheese and chocolate.
The towns of Great Western, Halls Gap and Dunkeld are the centres of the Grampians gourmet food scene. Here’s just a taste of what they have to offer.
Around 35 minutes’ drive from the Grampians National Park, the village of Great Western — population: just 900 — proudly dubs itself the Grampians’ food and wine mecca. With a high concentration of top-rated wine producers, this tiny town packs a big punch.
Five cellar doors are open to the public including ATR Wines, Miners Ridge, Best’s Great Western and Grampians Estate. Best’s received the ‘Best Value Winery’ gong in the 2021 edition of the respected Halliday Wine Companion. Several wines scored over 90 points, including the Italian-style dolcetto red and the elegant riesling. Enjoy tasting top drops that won’t break the bank at the historic cellar door, before touring the underground cellar.
Seppelt produces more than twenty wines from varietals including classic chardonnay to a bold shiraz. Hidden beneath the winery is Australia’s longest cellar – a 3.5-kilometre tunnel known as The Drives. Take a tour or enjoy the gourmet three-course Dine Deep experience.
For a more casual bite to eat, Salingers of Great Western serves an all-day breakfast, light lunches and delicious burgers (including a finger-licking southern fried chicken number) in a heritage setting. For a grab and go breakfast, you can’t go past the famous double egg and bacon sandwich from Great Western General Store.
The celebrated degustation menu at two-hatted Wickens at the Royal Mail Hotel Dunkeld is widely recognised as the region’s premier dining experience. The five-course menu changes frequently, but expect delicious duck, fresh fish or tender lamb, married with the freshest of produce grown onsite in the organic kitchen garden.
Next door, Parker Street Project offers casual a la carte dishes that are perfect for sharing. Build your own meal by pairing a protein like succulent lamb with sweet carrots or buttery brussels sprouts.
Located at the foot of the Grampians National Park, the tourist town of Halls Gap is the gateway to exploring both the natural beauty of the park and the local food scene. While it’s not actually open to the public, the two-hundred-acre farm of Mount Zero Olives, wrapped around the foot of Mount Zero, produces fabulous certified organic olive oils. It’s worth shopping for their produce online.
Visitors are welcome at the cellar door of family-run Pomonal Estate, which brews craft beers and ciders, and is under vine with a view to future wine production. Regulars reckon a riot could erupt if they ever run out of ginger beer. The unusual chocolate milk stout is another favourite. The liquid wares are best paired with their popular tasting platter, packed with produce from local organic growers and orchards, and meats and jams from Five Duck Farm and Red Rock Olives (which has its own farm gate).
The jagged peaks of the nearby Grampians look like they may well have been formed by giants in a fit of rage. Fallen Giants Wines, named in honour of the local Indigenous creation story, has shiraz vines dating back to the 1970s. Their yield takes on the distinctive characteristics of the ancient soils they inhabit.
A relaxed and fun-filled Grampians wine tour ticks all the boxes for first-timers to the region or those short on time. Visit the national park and three to five wineries on half or full-day tours. You can even take to the skies for a scenic helicopter flight and drop into Best’s for a picnic or arrive in rock star fashion for lunch at the Royal Mail Hotel.
Need a place to stay?
The town of Horsham makes a great base for your gourmet Grampians’ adventure. Comfort Inn Capital Horsham is contemporary in style and features an award-winning on-site eatery – Capital Bistro. Enjoy the a la carte menu, which showcases the freshest local produce. Comfort Inn May Park is located on the northern edge of the CBD, within walking distance of cafes and restaurants.
South of the Grampians, Comfort Inn Botanical in the town of Hamilton offers plenty of amenities. Their inhouse Botanical Bar and Restaurant overlooks the gorgeous Hamilton Botanic Gardens.
About the writer
Louise Reynolds is a Melbourne-based freelance travel writer. Louise made up her mind at the age of about four that she would one day travel the world – and has so far visited around 30 countries spread across five continents. Her favourite way to explore the world is on foot and her boots have taken her walking on famous trails in Europe, South America and New Zealand.