As promised ealier, here is my log entry about Giant Steps which is also known as Innocent Bystander. It is the most amazing new winery in the Yarra Valley. Wines under the Giant Steps label were released in 2001. But the new winery building was only opened in 2006.
It already earned very favourable critiques and the wines of course won quite a few awards and medals. A select Yarra Valley red wine tasting (all reds except Pinot Noir) late last year – by Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine, December/January edition – (http://gourmettravellerwie.com.au), for instance, ranked the ‘2006 Giant Steps Miller Vineyard Shiraz’ (92 points) and its 2005 Giant Steps Harry’s Monster’ a blend of Cabernet Sav., Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc (89 points) quite highly.
Actually Giant Steps – Innocent Bystander is not only a winery but also a restaurant, café, bakery, meeting place, etc. in the heart of Healesville, the charming rural town about an hour away north east of Melbourne. Phil and Allison Sexton, the owners, deserve great praise for having the courage to establish such an enterprise, the merging of an industrial work place like a winery with the inviting hospitality necessary for a café-bistro.
I had the opportunity to visit it twice during our recent Christmas vacation and had a great time there. First of all, its the only place I could find where I was able to surf the internet wireless with my laptop. Great. Second, the food is very delicious (people seem to love the pizzas) and so are the wines.
The modern interior leaves space for tranquility as well as play. We loved, what Germans call, a “kicker”, a kind of table soccer-machine, which invites for exciting competitions. For me the wireless internet access was such a bonus. Nowhere else could I update my blog in Healesville more easily.
Any time of the day is good to visit. You can have breakfast there from 10h onwards (many young mothers with their babies came) and enjoy the open atmosphere or you might opt for a meal or a drink later in the day. We came for breakfast. The coffee was delicious and the cakes were a culinary delight. But I also tried a ‘2007 Innocent Bystander Pinot Gris’, a very young and refreshing wine, with hints of citrus, dried pear and apple aromas, crisp on the palate with a dry finish.
Prices are reasonable given the location (Yarra Valley and Healesville). The wines under the Innocent Bystander label (sourced mostly from contract vineyards in the vicinity) for instance Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir or Shiraz Viognier sell for 20 A$/bottle. Trophy winners of the Giant Steps label are a bit more expensive (30 – 45 A$/bottle). The grapes for these wines come from single vineyard sites in the Yarra Valley either owned by the Sexton’s themselves or from long-term contracted growers. The winery and its wine maker, Steve Flamsteed, are proud of its new ‘sweat’ wine creation, a ‘2007 Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato’ (375 ml).
The entrance of Giant Steps – Innocent Bystander
The architecture of the place is also stunning. Its housed in an modern-industrial type of building. Its been designed by architect Martyn Hook of Iredale Pedersen Hook. The building consists of a steel structure with blends of wooden slates. There are also a lot of concrete walls. The substantial complex located at the thoroughfare of the small country town is a perfect blend of functionality with hospitality.
The side view of Giant Steps: winery side from the parking lot
The name! Of course, I forgot. It comes from the John Coltrane jazz album and stands for the ‘giant step’ the owners took in selling their successful vineyards in Margaret River, Western Australia and moving to the Yarra Valley in Victoria to start all over again.
Hope you have a chance to check this place out.
Giant Steps – Innocent Bystander
336 Maroondah Highway,