During our last week together in Glenburn, we decided to go on an outing and visit a boutique winery near Yea: Rocky Passes Estate, a micro vineyard and also a member of our Upper Goulburn Winegrowers Association. Rocky Passes estate is owned and operated by Vitto Oles and Candi Westney. Candi had left a message on my blog inviting us over to get to know them and their wines.
We went the long way passing through Yea and Trawool, then through some bushland searching for Highlands Road. It was a very beautiful drive through the Victorian countryside. On the hills one sees those rock boulders as in the photo below.
The only vineyard in the area is on the right hand side: Rocky Passes Estate, about 15 minutes east from Seymour. A sheep shed stands in the middle of the vineyard.
Rocky Passes Vineyard
Vineyard near the house
The house and the cellar door are very pretty. Vitto is not only a talented vigneron and winemaker but also a carpenter by profession. He has applied his skills to the winery as well. I just loved the tasting room which is quite cosy.
The house and the picnic area
Charlotte and Lucy with the emblem of the estate: the eagle
The tasting room
Rocky Passes Estate is a boutique winery in the artisan tradition, inspired by the simplicity of the Argentinian cantinas. It produces biodynamically grown fruit. Yields are kept low to achieve outstanding wine qualities.
Margit tasting the Rocky Passes wines
Rocky Passes Estate produces exclusively Syrah grapes (1.6 ha) and wines. Vitto had recently planted some Viognier (0.4 ha) which will extend the product range. We tasted all of the released wines. Excellent drops, I can confirm it.
James Halliday awarded to the ‘2005 Rocky Passes Syrah’ 94 Parker points and ranked the estate as a top winery (five stars). This is a great achievement. Nothing to add. The verdict is clear: these are top of the rank wines. Also the other vintages show their character as fine cool climate wines of Central Victoria. We bought a mixed dozen bottles and took one of the 2005 vintage back to Bangkok.
Vitto, the artisan, and Margit in the winery
Vitto also introduced us to the wines in the making, some blends of Cabernet and Shiraz, and straight Cabernets. The vineyard is an extreme cool site and prone to late frosts in some years. Everything is hand made, from pruning to harvesting as well as the work in the small winery.
Established in 2000 total production is only about 800 cases. The wines are very reasonably priced. The 2005 Syrah with the 94 points cost only A$ 25 at the cellar door. The winery is worth a visit. Vitto and Candy are excellent hosts and extremely kind, full or energy and enthusiasm. Vitto has lots of interesting stories to tell. Give them a ring before going there.
We drove back along Highlands Road directly to Yea. Also this drive is worth it. What a lovely outing this was on a fine winters day in rural Victoria. Don’t miss it.
Vitto Oles & Candi Westney
Rocky Passes Estate
1590 Highlands Rd
+61 3 5796 9366