It’s often well after their tour has ended that Daylesford Wine Tour guests realise their host, Clay Watson, has Hollywood credentials.

Quiet and unassuming, he doesn’t like to make a big deal of his ‘other’ profession. First shooting to fame as The Kid in The Matrix Reloaded in 2003, Clay went on to play various roles both on home grown soil and overseas.

However, a move to Daylesford saw him switch the big screen for boutique wines. As a lover of all things wine, Clay set up Daylesford Wine Tours in 2011. He’s been showcasing the regions boutique wineries to visitors from near and far, ever since. Here, we get the lowdown on Clay’s must visit locations around the region.

What drew you to the Daylesford area?

I was on a holiday with my wife Renai and we absolutely fell in love with the place. Everything from the food, the service, the scenery, to the amazing wines we tasted had us hooked. We moved here in 2011 and haven’t looked back since.   

As a local wine tour guide, which wineries do you recommend people visit in the region?

We are spoilt for choice when it comes to wineries around Daylesford. My favourite go to places are Passing Clouds, Sailors Falls Estate, Limestone Track Vineyard and Mount Franklin Winery. A little further afield from Daylesford, Zig Zag Rd Winery and Wombat Forest Winery are both fantastic options as well. 

Do you have a favourite local tipple?

I have always been a big fan of The Angel from Passing Clouds. I hail from the Barossa region so I love my big reds. This handmade wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cameron Leith, the winemaker, hand selects five of the best barrels each year, which then go into oak for 12 months. It is by far my favourite local drop. 

Where is your favourite place for a bite to eat in the region?

I love David Willcocks cooking at the Surly Goat in Hepburn Springs. The food there is amazing, the service is spot on and it has the most lovely atmosphere. I love sitting at the bar, chatting with the barkeeper and enjoying Dave’s incredible food.   

Where do you head for a craft brew?

I head to Daylesford Brewing. Owner and head brewer, Dave Gill, does a fantastic job and has created some really tasty IPAs. I’m generally not a huge fan of boutique beers, however I can honestly say that I really enjoy every one of Dave’s beers.    

As a family man, where do you take the kids for a fun day out locally?

We love Daylesford Cider. There is plenty for the kids to do here in the expansive garden. The food is beautiful and owners Claire and Mackie have done a great job of making the venue both family and pet friendly. Mackie also makes a great cider, which his long list of awards is testament to.  

Any insider tips on what do in the region that visitors may not be aware of?

I think one of the best hidden gems of our region is just how many high quality boutique cellar doors that the area is home to. Here you can find family run vineyards where the wine is handmade, hand plunged and hand labelled, with minimal amounts of additives, resulting in a long lasting taste. You get to meet the makers and learn first hand how the wine is made. And best of all, our wineries are never too crowded. 

Lastly, are there any plans to switch Daylesford for the Hollywood Hills anytime soon?

Although I have enjoyed getting back into acting and producing over the past couple of years, with some exciting projects in the works, it’s safe to say I’m anchored in Daylesford. We love the lifestyle here far too much, we won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.  

Keep an eye out for Clay in the upcoming psychological revenge drama, The Cost, which includes scenes filmed near Kyneton. He also plays the lead role in upcoming crime thriller, Kane.

The Cost Clayton Watson 009 uai
Clay Watson in 'The Cost'. Photography by Brian Flexmore.