When looking to escape the busy city beat for some rest and recoup, it’s often that we look to our neighbours in the Mornington Peninsula or the Yarra Valley. But slightly further out of Melbourne to Victoria’s North-East lies the King Valley: a premium wine region that is seeing tourism thrive.
Leading the way is renowned family-owned winery, Brown Brothers, who base its operations in the small country town of Milawa. One of Australia’s best producers of hand-crafted wine since 1889, Brown Brothers has been one of the leading purveyors boosting the King Valley region.
Here to shine a light on Victoria’s High Country, we spent 48 hours in Milawa with Brown Brothers dissecting all there is to do in the town of Milawa.
Milawa is a small town located south-east of Wangaratta on the main road between Myrtleford and Glenrowan, Victoria. It’s also situated in the heart of the Gourmet Region, which is a renowned hub for local artisan winemakers, food producers, restaurants, cafes, and craftsmen.
Along with its natural beauty and charming character, Milawa is a town with a strong Italian influence with many Italo-Australians sharing their unique take on wines and foods along with warm country hospitality.
With what is only a 2.5-hour drive from Melbourne, thousands flock to Milawa each and every year to experience the town’s quality offerings.
Where to Stay
Lindenwarrah at Milawa
Located in the heart of Milawa – and conveniently opposite Brown Brothers winery – Lindenwarrah at Milawa is a modest, quaint and peaceful stay elevating Milawa’s beautiful charm.
This tranquil country house hotel is the perfect base to experience a plethora of world-class food and wine, all at the doorstep of your hotel room.
Stay in the Sunset Room for a romantic setting, as the rising and setting sun captures the essence of the High Country.
Where to Wine & Dine
Brown Brothers Winery
Milawa has always been the spiritual home to the historic Brown Brothers estate, with founder John Francis Brown planting the first vineyard in 1889. Now four generations on, operations still run in the Brown family, with Ross Brown and his daughters Katherine, Caroline and Emma keeping traditions well and truly alive.
Brown Brothers has significantly contributed to Australia’s world-renowned winemaking industry, and more importantly, has put Victoria’s King Valley region on the map as a premium wine producing district.
If you look back at Brown Brothers rich history, one of its greatest achievements was thanks to John Charles Brown who discovered ‘noble rot’ or ‘botrytis-affected grapes’ in the vineyard which led to the production of Australia’s first Noble Riesling; a loved wine still to this day. It’s this experimentation and innovation of different grape varieties that elevated Brown Brothers as one of the pioneers of winemaking in the country.
When visiting Brown Brothers, a visit to the cellar door comes highly recommended. The Cellar Door will allow you to explore and try variations of your favourite styles. Sip on classics like a King Valley Prosecco or Pinot Grigio, or try something new in the way of a Gamay or Albarino.
After trialling the different grape varieties, a 5-course degustation lunch with matched wines at Patricia’s Table – a one-Hat dining destination – is a must!
Named in honour of the family matriarch Patricia Brown, who had a passion for cooking for her family, Patricia’s Table is a leading restaurant of the region.
With each dish meticulously thought out by Head Chef Jarrod Kelley, fresh and local ingredients are used to create modern Australian dishes with a true sense of farm-to-table cooking.
Expect entrees such as poached coconut chicken oysters with cucumber salsa, and cured ocean trout on a zucchini and horseradish cream crumpet. Mains are hearty; Kangaroo fillet served medium rare with golden beetroot, rhubarb and pepperberry is a standout!
What to do
Cheese lovers, rejoice! Proudly family-owned and Milawa-made, a visit to Milawa Cheese is a must!
The 101-year-old former butter factory was turned into a haven for cheese when owners David & Anne Brown founded Milawa Cheese Company back in 1988, setting out to make delicious Australian farmhouse cheeses inspired by European methods.
The Milawa Blue cheese, their most renowned product, is a must-try! Cheese tasting and tours are also available onsite.
Note: for those looking for a quality coffee, Sam the barista at Milawa Cheese whips up a mean coffee using Melbourne’s Proud Mary coffee beans.
One of Australia’s finest producers of mustards and condiments, Milawa Mustards craft a range of 17-seeded mustards ranging from Mild Honey (a fan favourite) to Flaming Hot Chilli mustard, all made on-site. Their range also includes seasonal condiments such as jellies, jams, chutneys, marmalades and mustard oil salad dressings.
Feast High Country Festival
From May 3-19, the annual Feast High Country festival takes place around the King Valley, showcasing all that there is to do, see, taste, and experience in the region.
A celebration for all ages to enjoy, the Feast High Country festival hosts a mix of activities over 2-weeks, with the Grand Opening dinner at Brown Brothers marking the start of the annual festival.
For a full list of activities in each town and village, please visit the website above here.