Geelong Wine Region

The Popular Grape Varieties

Our three local subregions – Bellarine Peninsula, the Moorabool Valley and Surf Coast all produce a rich array of traditional and ‘exotic’ grape varieties but the most outstanding and noteworthy varieties that currently really define our region are the traditional grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay that we are best known for;

Pinot Noir

A temperamental grape but a timeless flagship for the region. The definitive Geelong Pinot Noir displays a luxurious palate flanked by rich cherry plum flavours and great length driven by fine tannins.


Often described as the ‘Holy Grail’ of winemaking, pinot noir production is a fickle business at the best of times, yet our region has successfully produced premium world class examples with layers upon layers of complexity, depth of flavour and beautiful textures, mouth feel, and overall balance. Elegance and finesse are the keys to success alongside perfumed pinot fragrance and aromatics with ripe and aromatic dark cherry fruits and layers of undergrowth/forest floor complexities lurking underneath the dark fruits and perfumed spice that are seamlessly soft, and supple in texture. If you’re intending on getting to know what all the fuss is about in respect to quality pinot noir, then Geelong pinot noirs are are great place to start.

Geelong pinots have been described as sensual and seductive. Filled with complex berry/forest floor/earthy/spice/cigar aromatics and seductively supple sappy fruit flavours that can drive many a winemaker to distraction with its demanding nature.

It’s immensely intensive, physically, mentally and monetarily speaking as every little production process is a demanding, hands-on approach, as the grape is thin skinned, temperamental, prone to disease, and difficult to grow, as it requires certain regional conditions to produce it’s best. Yet, given patience, persistence and passion, the results can be sublime to say the least.

Some 15-20 years ago the variety was still in its infancy in the domestic market, and with young vines and steep learning curves ahead, many producers were very much finding their way with the grape, which meant that style wise it was a bit all over the shop, and many a lover of big reds just couldn’t handle the more pretty charms of the much lighter variety, but over the last 10 years or so we’re now starting to see much more regional character and definition in the wines, as the vines mature and the winemaking becomes better and more attuned.


The Shiraz grape grows beautifully down our way and has done so since the very early days of winemaking in the Geelong region and the top examples are all characterized by the deep, rich, vibrant raspberry/brambly dark fragrant fruits, earth, pepper and complex spice characters.


A classic Geelong Shiraz boasts striking depth of colour and bouquet with an opulent complex palate. Flavours range from vibrant red berry and dark plum to rich black fruits coupled with cool climate pepper and spice entwined with silky textured tannins.

The vibrant lifted floral/savoury aroma’s, the generous, but oh so supple and rounded textural mouthfeel with rich blackberry fruits, meaty charcuterie/spice/liquorice/pepper and raspberry characters that can seem opulent yet balanced, not exaggerated. Teeming with flavour and complexity, this is Geelong Shiraz.

Geelong Shiraz is super fragrant, the bright and perfumed Asian savoury spice notes scream for this to be served with Asian food! The weight is medium bodied, and overall the feel is old world, the key being that old French oak barriques have been used and allow the purity of the fruit and expression of the vineyards to shine. The regional DNA of complex dark fruits, pepper and spice are imbedded of course, but again it’s the meaty complexity and mouthfeel that win you over.


A popular variety that is returning to its pre-eminence in the market as wine lovers rediscover the supreme richness and flavor profiles that this wonderful variety can offer, especially given the respect and dedication it deserves. Here in the Geelong region we have benchmark Chardonnay’s that weave texture, finesse and complexity with the finely focused citrus and stone fruit characters, coupled with gentle and supporting French oak use, the wines produced can be very classy indeed.


Long celebrated for its sophistication, a Geelong chardonnay is typically cool climate displaying delicious stone fruit characters, fresh citrus finish and a distinctive Burgundian creamy texture when aged.

Geelong Chardonnays have been described as elegant and with a sublime mineral complexity This flinty/leesy complexity in the aromatics and more mineral/flinty/gunsmoke notes in amongst their signature creamy textured palate coating flavors of stone fruits, nougat and lees character with excellent weight, and balance completing the picture.

Sauvignon Blanc

Pushing the boundaries while still capturing the array of herbaceous, citrus and subtle tropical fruit characteristics of this popular varietal, many Geelong winemakers are creating wines with great texture and complexity by judicious use of oak.


Here in Geelong we are producing some very fine examples of Sauvignon Blanc that are redefining what Australian Sauvignon Blanc is all about – freshness, vibrancy and varietal expression.

Sauvignon Blanc is another very popular variety here in the Greater Geelong region but don’t expect the kind of super pungency of the New Zealand style as our Sauvignon Blanc’s tend to be more elegant and restrained in style yet still show some crunch and punch in the tropical fruit department with fresh, lively vibrancy that is typically representative of the variety. Expect flavours of gooseberry, passionfruit, with a pronounced grassy/herbaceous character yet overall the flavours are subtle and rounded on the finish.

Pinot Gris

Whether it’s the Pinot ‘Gris’ or ‘Grigio’ style that takes your fancy, Geelong winemakers are producing sophisticated and diverse Pinot Gris wines with texture, balance and considerable length, typically showing exotic savoury notes with green apple and nashi pear.


Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris – basically they are one and the same grape, just stylistically different) is a white grape variety that is slightly grey in colour (hence the name ‘gris’) and is thought to be a ‘cousin’ of Pinot Noir. Famously grown in the Alsace region of France it produces richly textured, aromatically perfumed wines, whereas in Italy it is a prominent white grape variety of the Veneto region. The Italian Pinot Grigio style is generally a refreshingly lean, light bodied wine that is light in colour with a dry savouriness, a thread of mineral character and an edge of acidity finishing fresh and crisp, though more expensive examples tend to show much more layered flavour definition, depth and texture.


Geelong Rieslings are diverse in style – whether crafted in the classic Australian dry style or displaying sweeter Germanic influences – typically showing lemon and lime fruit with oral blossom fragrances and vibrant acidity giving impressive length.


As we all well know, the noble white grape variety we call Riesling is an aromatic grape known for its almost perfumed flowery/blossom exuberance alongside its steely high acidity on the palate. Common flavour descriptors usually contain references to lime/lemon/citrus, mineral and slate, whilst the structure and finish tends to lean towards the wines being seen as crisp and dry, though there are a welter of fantastic sweet, semi-sweet (or off dry) examples that are mouth-wateringly delicious that are produced in Germany – the ancestral home of the variety, as well as new world examples from the likes of New Zealand and here in Australia.

It’s relatively high levels of acidity means that the wines have ageing potential, developing toasty complex honey and kerosene-like characters as they evolve. The sheer purity of some examples and their clean-cut linearity and balance make them highly sought after by most veteran wine lovers, as these pristine characters are highly expressive of their site, or as the French term it, their ‘terroir’.

Most Rieslings however are consumed when young, showing their youthful fruity and aromatic qualities based around aromas and flavours of fresh green apples, grapefruit, peach, gooseberry, honey, rose blossom or cut green grass.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Some indulgent examples of this varietal continue to evolve from the region divulging powerful fruit characteristics of rich cassis and sumptuous dark cherry. In Australia, the Coonawarra and Margaret River regions are praised for their rich Cabernet’s, each quite unique in their own right, but other area’s demand attention too such as the cool climate, more elegant expressions that are produced here in the Geelong region.


Cabernet Sauvignon is one very classy grape variety, one of the world’s most recognised in fact. It’s a small, and thick-skinned grape that ripens late yet is extremely hardy and consistent in character, producing quite dark, rich wines noted for their powerful flavours, grippy tannins and herbal/cedar/spice characters. In Bordeaux, the famous ‘home’ of the variety it is intimately connected to the region, where there is good reason why this grape is so highly regarded and commands such attention, praise, and high prices.




Pushing the boundaries while still capturing the array of herbaceous, citrus and subtle tropical fruit characteristics of this popular varietal, many Geelong winemakers are creating wines with great texture and complexity by judicious use of oak.

Geelong Exotic Reds: Tempranillo, Gamay, Grenache, Nebbiolo


Summer is a perfect time for enjoying a cool crisp glass of rosé as an aperitif, over lunch or with some seafood.


Whether it’s the Pinot ‘Gris’ or ‘Grigio’ style that takes your fancy, Geelong winemakers are producing sophisticated and diverse Pinot Gris wines with texture, balance and considerable length, typically showing exotic savoury notes with green apple and nashi pear.

Geelong Exotic Whites: Marsanne, Viognier, Albarino, Fiano

“Pinot Noir is a must-try in the region, as is the subtly spicy Shiraz, but you can’t overlook the region’s whites. You might be surprised to find age-worthy, barrel-fermented Sauvignon Blanc wines that look to Bourdeaux, or beautifully-balanced Chardonnay wines that tread the line between austere and oaky perfectly. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio suits the environment here, and the resulting wines offer a stunning concentration of citrus/stone fruit flavours.”

– James Halliday