Unearth the Pyrenees

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Unearth the Pyrenees

A relaxing drive from Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Wimmera and the Grampians is Victoria’s very own Pyrenees, a spectacular region well removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and best known for its award winning wineries, arts, agriculture and the Avoca Races.

Those who enjoy a journey of the senses to a destination off the mainstream tourist track will love discovering PYRENEES UNEARTHED, an all-new festival that brings together wine, art and racing, held on the ANZAC Day long weekend.

One can see why the French and Australian regions share a name, with sweeping vistas, a love of petanque and diverse wine growing country that produces world-class wines.

The French wine connection dates back to the 1960s when French brandy producer Remy Martin established their eponymous chateau near Avoca, now known as Blue Pyrenees Estate. There is a history of French winemakers within the region and in more recent times Michel Chapoutier, one of France’s most admired makers of shiraz, has bought vineyards in the region.

“New visitors are often surprised by the French influence in the region, also including Taltarni Vineyards, having been run by French Winemakers for many years and more recently Michel Chapoutier – a famous winemaker from the Rhone Valley of France, investing heavily in vineyards of the region,” says chief winemaker and CEO of the Blue Pyrenees, Andrew Koerner.

A southern extension of the Great Dividing Range, the Pyrenees boast tracks for off road driving, trail biking, mountain bike riding and bush walking. The foothills and ranges also create a remarkable diversity of microclimates for winemakers.

The Pyrenees’ strength and reputation lies in its savoury, spicy reds, in particular premium Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, and increasingly in a fine range of wonderful sparkling wines. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also respond beautifully to the Pyrenees soils and climate.


In 2015 Blue Pyrenees was awarded a trophy for Australia’s best Cabernet Sauvignon by Winewise magazine and Taltarni received a trophy for Australia’s best Shiraz at the Royal National Wine Show in Canberra. Five Pyrenees wineries were also awarded 5 red stars, the highest rating, in the prestigious 2016 James Halliday Australian Wine Companion.

Pyrenees wines also impress judges abroad with Blue Pyrenees Estate’s 2010 Midnight Cuvee awarded the Best Sparkling Wine in Australia in 2014 and Taltarni’s Taché Australia’s Best Sparkling Rosé in 2015, both at the Champagne and Sparkling World Championships.

“On the wine side, I believe the Pyrenees is Victoria’s Cabernet Sauvignon red wine capital,” Koerner says. “There would be some who argue with this but we have the 3rd party accolades, trophies and reviews to prove it.  WA has Margaret River, SA has Coonawarra and Victoria has the Pyrenees. I encourage Forte readers to attend our masterclass at the Avoca Wine Festival on Sunday the 24th, which will be making this very point with five of the region’s very best Cabernet Sauvignon’s from the great year 2012.”

The Pyrenees also holds its place in the history of Australia’s Gold Rush with many prospectors still striking it lucky today in areas of the Pyrenees State Forest and Mount Cole. To acknowledge this history, a contemporary Chinese Garden was recently created nestled among the Australian landscape in Avoca. Garden lovers would also enjoy a visit to Mount Mitchell Estate.

There are many towns and villages, art galleries and cafés to explore across the Pyrenees region but central to them all is Avoca. Avoca is a delight to explore and will play host to the majority of events happening over the 2016 inaugural ANZAC Day long weekend festival, PYRENEES UNEARTHED.

Celebrating wine, art and racing, PYRENEES UNEARTHED will come alive on Saturday the 23rd of April with the launch of the Avoca Art Exhibition and Sale. Located in the newly renovated town hall the two-day show will also hold the Taltarni Gala Award Ceremony on Saturday evening.

Festival goers will also be able to enjoy intimate cellar door experiences on the Saturday where in true Pyrenees style there will be a good chance of meeting the winemaker in person among many other activities on offer.

The day’s adventures won’t stop there with Mount Mitchell Estate opening their garden for only the second time in around fifteen years. Stroll around the property taking in the views of the Pyrenees while appreciating the rich history and amazing architectural features and gardens of the homestead.

On Sunday meander through the Avoca Riverside Markets en route to the feature event, the Avoca Wine Festival, where it will be time to unearth wines from around fifteen local wineries. Located along the banks of the Avoca River, the festival will have plenty to drink, eat and do with Live Music all day, FREE Kids’ Activities, Petanque Activities, Table Games and much more.

The relaxed and unearthed festival vibe will continue into the night at the Avoca Racecourse where campers and anyone else can join P.W Billy & Trevor Moore around the bonfire for a good ol’ fashion sing-a-long.  A ticket to The Bonfire Bash also includes a barbeque dinner, marshmallows and access to a pop up games room.

Monday the 25th of April will see the dawn service at the Avoca RSL followed by the Jayco ANZAC Day Races, a day full of entertainment with traditional ANZAC Day activities including 2-Up, along with live music, kids activities, Pyrenees wine stalls and country thoroughbred racing at its finest.

By bus or by car, getting there is easy, but for those wanting to spend the weekend under the Pyrenees stars, the Avoca Shire Turf Club offer camping at the racecourse for only $15 per night per site. Ballarat residents can also take advantage of a 2 for 1 return bus offer to the Avoca Wine Festival for just $24 in total.

So come fall in love with a region ready to be discovered and be greeted with a warm welcome and a smile at PYRENEES UNEARTHED.

When & Where: Pyrenees – April 23-25


Avoca Art Exhibition and Sale: $5 per adult
Taltarni Gala Awards Ceremony: $25 per adult
Pre-purchase by Fri 16 April & save $5pp

Cellar Door Experiences: See website for more details.
Mount Mitchell Homestead Open Garden: $15 per adult. Kids U/18 free.
Avoca Riverside Markets: Free event
Avoca Wine Festival Tasting Ticket: $25pp | Kids U/18 Free
Pre-purchase by Fri 16 April & save $5pp
General admission available online.
Tasting Ticket, Masterclass & $30pp (early bird)
Rare wine auction (Pre-booking essential) $35pp (after the 16 April)
Bonfire Bash: $15pp | Children U/13 $5
Jayco ANZAC Day Races: $15 adult / $13 pre-paid, Pensioners $10, Kids U/16 free