5 March 2021

Everything happens for a riesling: Canberra District Wine Industry celebrating 50 years

| Michael Weaver
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John and Marina Sekoranja with riesling connoisseurs at McKellar Ridge Estate.

Husband and wife team John and Marina Sekoranja (centre, at back) with some riesling connoisseurs who had shirts for the occasion at McKellar Ridge Estate. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra District Wine Industry is about to raise a toast to 50 years since the first plantings of vines and subsequent production of wine within the region with a host of events during Canberra Wine Week in March.

Local wine lovers and viticulturists will also be celebrating a bumper harvest following the less than bumper crop from last season when grapes were tainted by bushfire smoke and the industry was thrown into chaos with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canberra District Wine Industry Association coordinator Fran Marshall says the local wine week, from 21-29 March, will celebrate the Canberra region’s highly regarded vineyards and wineries, despite only two wineries being within the ACT border.

Our district, which spreads across Canberra, Hall, Murrumbateman, Yass, Bungendore, Lake George, Wamboin, Gundaroo and Collector, has grown considerably during the past 50 years,” she says.

“It is now estimated there are 140 vineyards with approximately 450 hectares under vine, and upwards of 40 cellar doors.”

A selection of red wines at Norton Road Wines at Wamboin.

A selection of reds at Norton Road Wines at Wamboin. Photo: Supplied.

Grapes have been grown and wine made in the Canberra district since the 1840s so it is not the first time local grape growers have faced adversity. Fran says it wasn’t until interest in viticulture and winemaking in the Canberra District was rekindled in the 1970s and 1980s that the region really began making a name for itself.

“Canberra District Wine Week is not only a special year of celebration due to a disastrous 2020, but we’re recognising and celebrating, cementing our place as a premium cool-climate wine region in Australia,” she says.

And we want you to celebrate with us.”

The launch event will be held in the Canberra CBD on Saturday, 20 March, when capital wine lovers will be given the opportunity to get up close and personal with winemakers from about 16 wineries at the annual tasting event in the surrounds of the Kambri precinct at ANU.

People stomping grapes in a barrel.

Get a feel for the grapes between your toes during Canberra Wine Week from 21-29 March. Photo: Supplied.

Further events include premium wine dinners, cellar door museum wine tastings, grape stomping, art exhibitions, musical soirees, and the chance to blend your own wines. Of course, there will be numerous courses of delicious food matched with amazing wine.

The three topographical areas for the Canberra district’s cool-climate wines includes Murrumbateman/Yass, which is home to about 15 wineries; Canberra/Hall, which includes Pialligo Estate and Mount Majura Vineyard; and a third area encompassing Bungendore, Wamboin, Gundaroo, Lake George and Collector.

Fran says tickets always sell fast for Canberra Wine Week in what is regarded as a stellar event.

More information is available at Canberra District Wine and relevant social media pages.

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