Tucked away in the picturesque landscape of Central Victoria, Sailors Falls Estate winery tells a story of transformation, tradition, and tenacity. In 1999, what was once a pig farm began its metamorphosis into a vineyard, despite the opposition of neighbours; an astonishing 200 locals turned up to a meeting to voice their concerns and support. Yet, Rob and his wife Marg, driven by their burgeoning passion for wine, were determined to cultivate his small plot of land.
Adjacent to the vineyard lies a property steeped in family history, complete with a miner's cottage from the 1860s. The land, rich and fertile, is also challenged by its altitude, dictating the choice of crops that can thrive. Named after the local waterfall where two sailors famously found gold, Sailors Falls Estate embraces the historic spirit of gold, timber, and water that once energized the region.
Rob, the winegrower, may have begun his journey as an aficionado of wine rather than a producer. His career in the Department of Justice as a director of policing was a far cry from viticulture. Yet, it was his exposure to the wine and food culture through Italian families during his teaching days in Fitzroy in the 1960s and his travels through Europe's wine-centric countries that lit the spark for his wine-making adventure. Retiring in 2004, Rob, who grew up on a Gippsland farm, combined his agricultural roots and his desire to run a small business to nurture the growth of Sailors Falls Estate.
Viticulture here is a defiance of nature's limitations: the high elevation, the encircling forests, the scarce water supply, and the birds that prey on the grapes. But with a comprehensive netting strategy and careful selection of clones like gamay, pinot gris, and pinot noir that ripen at altitude, Sailors Falls Estate has succeeded. With the first vintage in 2004/2005, they learned resilience during the drought, leading to the replanting of vines from Mildura. They chose not to irrigate, seeking advice from viticulture experts to ensure the right grapes were cultivated for consistency in both soil and harvest.
Ron Snep from Welshman’s Reef Vineyard now crafts their wine, bringing their grapes to life each April and May, though climate shifts have seen picking times advance. Rob's personal favourites, the pinot gris, and its sparkling rose counterpart, highlight their unique offerings, with daughter Lucinda’s 'wedding wine' standing out as a particularly remarkable vintage.
Being a winegrower for Rob is about the reward – creating something of your own, akin to a personal 'tomato sauce.' It's about the people you meet, and the stories shared. However, the challenges are also tangible: weather inconsistency, labour-intensive work, and the relentless manual effort required in a small vineyard.
What sets Sailors Falls Estate apart is the personal touch. Visitors meet Rob, Marg and those who work the land and can enjoy unique tastes of proper cool climate wines, learning the nuances of each variety. The estate offers self-contained accommodation within walking distance from the falls, bushwalks, and a short drive from town, complete with an outdoor oven for a rustic cooking experience.
But Sailors Falls Estate is just one gem in the crown of the Daylesford and Macedon Ranges' wineries. To truly embrace and enjoy the full experience of this region's viticultural delights, there's no better way than a tour with Daylesford Wine Tours. Let us handle the logistics while you indulge in fun and discovery. With Daylesford Wine Tours, every aspect of your journey is catered for, allowing you to immerse fully in the joy and relaxation of wine country. Book a tour today and experience the essence of Daylesford and Macedon Ranges' wineries, where every sip tells a story and each visit leaves a lasting memory.
Sailors Falls Estate