Top spots to stop and sip cool climate wines

We’re generalising (slightly) here, but there are two kinds of wine regions: the big, well-known ones, with huge estates that produce gigalitres of wine and have cellar doors that churn visitors in and out…and the small, lesser-known regions that are home to boutique, family-run vineyards, with low volumes, high quality and unpretentious cellar doors where you often get to meet the winemaker.

The Macedon Ranges wine region is the latter, where the cool climate wines have won swags of awards, all only an hour or so from Melbourne. To get you started, here are a few cellar doors to check out.

MOUNT TOWRONG VINEYARD, MOUNT MACEDON

The remarkable cellar door at Mount Towrong was designed by architect Paul Couch. Visitors sigh in appreciation when they first see the sliding reclaimed timber front door, and the uber cool style continues from there. This winery is dedicated to producing Italian wine varietals such as prosecco, ribolla gialla, vermentino, nebbiolo, negroamaro and lagrein. These exciting varietals complement the carefully curated Italian lunch and the friendly pooches just add to the welcoming vibe. Open: Saturday and Sunday

MOUNT MONUMENT, ROMSEY

True to its name, Mount Monument is truly monumental in both vision and execution, with sculptures scattered over the expansive landscape. Created by Nonda Katsalidis, the architect behind MONA and Eureka Tower, the style and sculptures flow inside, and the cellar door and adjoining restaurant is extraordinary. Better yet the wine is made by 2021 ‘Young Gun of Wine’ winner, Ben Rankin.
Open: Friday to Sunday

Mount Monument Sculpture, by Nonda Katsalidis
Mount Monument Sculpture, by Nonda Katsalidis

PARAMOOR WINERY, CARLSRUHE

Paramoor Winery is a hidden jewel, thriving in a cool climate that nurtures the slow ripening of its 20-year-old pinot noir, riesling and pinot gris vines. An original Clydesdale barn serves as the tasting room, providing a rustic and nostalgic setting, which is extra cosy in winter when the fireplace is roaring.
Open: Friday to Monday

MOUNT MACEDON WINERY, WOODEND

Follow a narrow forest trail and into a clearing to find this high-altitude cellar door and restaurant. Sitting at almost 700m above sea level, Mount Macedon Winery offers the signature styles of the region: sparkling, chardonnay and pinot noir. Food options include wood- fired pizza in the cellar door or set-course dining in UUMM Restaurant. The views are amazing, enhanced by the highland cows that call the verdant slopes home.
Open: Thursday to Sunday (lunch)
Friday & Saturday (dinner)

Paramore Winery by Tiffany Warner
Paramore Winery, by Tiffany Warner

HANGING ROCK WINERY, NEWHAM

John and Ann Ellis bought the property in 1982, chosen because of the cool-climate conditions that are perfect for making sparkling wine, a passion of theirs (read more about John Ellis on page 23). Ruth and Rob Ellis have now taken over custodianship of the winery, and Hanging Rock has become one of the great pillars of the region. Here you can sip on their range of sparkling wine, riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and shiraz as you take in spectacular views of Hanging Rock and Mount Macedon.
Open: 7 days

WOMBAT FOREST WINERY, DENVER

Located halfway between Daylesford and Kyneton, and immersed in the Wombat State Forest, is Wombat Forest Winery. Enjoy outstanding service, friendly chats and cheese plates while you enjoy the views of a thriving wombat habitat amongst ancient gum trees. As for the wine, choose from NV blanc de noir, chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Open: Friday to Sunday

Hesket Estate

HESKET ESTATE, HESKET

The rustic and welcoming cellar door at Hesket Estate is located in what was once a shearing shed. Nowadays, this cleverly transformed space is the ideal spot for tasting their distinctive small batch wines including sparkling, gewürztraminer, riesling, chardonnay and pinot noir. Cosy up beside the double-sided fireplace with a cheese platter in winter. Or sit outside under the gorgeous liquid ambers and ash trees on warmer days taking in the stunning Macedon Ranges views (with Hanging Rock Reserve a short 4-minute drive away).
Open: Saturday and Sunday

GRANITE HILLS WINERY, BAYNTON

Granite Hills is an icon of the region, with vines planted back in the 1970s. A host of compelling wines are on offer; there’s pinot blanc, gruner veltliner, riesling, gamay, pinot noir and blended heavier reds. A regional pioneer, their wines have won countless awards and are held in the highest esteem amongst those in the know. Conoisseurs will love the experience, along with the beautiful scenery.
Open: 7 days

Passing Clouds. Photo by Nikole Ramsay
Passing Clouds. Photo by Nikole Ramsay

PASSING CLOUDS WINERY, MUSK

Just outside Daylesford is Passing Clouds Winery. Here, second generation winemaker Cameron Leith and his team produce cool climate wines, including pinot noir and chardonnay. Taste their range at the welcoming cellar door, before moving on to the recently renovated dining room for a three-course shared La Famiglia lunch.
Open: Thursday to Monday (cellar door)
Friday to Monday (lunch)

LYONS WILL ESTATE, LANCEFIELD

Lyons Will Estate specialises in cool climate signature varietals: pinot noir, chardonnay, riesling and gamay. Vignerons and owners, Ollie and Renata, have recently opened a stunning new light-filled tasting room, which overlooks the surrounding vines. Expect a friendly and lively welcome, and if you’re into wine talk, a granular, knowledgeable conversation on their favourite topic.
Open: Friday to Sunday

CLEVELAND WINERY, LANCEFIELD

Stepping down into Cleveland Winery’s underground cellar door is reminiscent of visiting a Burgundian winery, and the team here backs it up with quality pinot noir and chardonnay – two grapes one associates with Burgundy. You can also choose to stay on, taking advantage of the newly refurbished accommodation, restaurant and outstanding views.
Open: Friday to Sunday

LeBouchon Attwoods
LeBouchon Attwoods

ATTWOODS WINES, GLENLYON

Attwoods Wines is home to a beautifully renovated cellar door, overlooking rolling vineyards and leafy gardens. The French-inspired restaurant Le Bouchon, which offers a seasonal menu of four or five courses, has a terraced deck from which you can enjoy exceptional pet nat, chardonnay, rosé, pinot noir or shiraz, produced by winemaker Troy Walsh.
Open: Friday to Monday

Opening hours are subject to change.
Please contact the winery directly to confirm before making the trip.

Other must visit cellar doors:

Captains Creek Organic Wines, Blampied
Gisborne Peak Winery & Cottages, Gisborne
Kyneton Ridge Estate, Kyneton
Parkside Winery & Farm, Lancefield
Panacea Estate, Welshman’s Reef
Red Poppy Estate, Romsey

Hero image: Wombat Forest Winery. Photography by Chloe Smith

About the author

KREATE MadeleineBlake
Madeleine Blake

Madeleine is the PR manager at Daylesford Macedon Tourism and the editor of Daylesford Macedon Life magazine. A Woodend local, she loves getting out and about meeting with tourism operators and helping to spread the word about the many amazing things to do in the region. On the weekends, Madeleine can be found exploring the region with her three young kids in tow.