There’s nothing more romantic than a day spent ankle-deep in a vineyard, sipping on some of our state’s finest. At Dominique Portet, this rural fantasy is only one hour away. Nestled deep within the Yarra Valley, The Dominique Portet winery produces some of our state’s finest wines and eagerly compliments them with a traditional selection of light lunches, French pastry and of course, coffee.

Couturing was delighted to speak with head vintner, Ben Portet, who has carried on his family’s tradition. “We have a long family tradition of winemaking originating in Cognac, France in 1720. The Dominique Portet wines are a continuation of this, bringing tradition and innovation of winemaking to Australia, so the wines have a European feel with an Australian openness.”

As Melbourne stays consistent with its warm summer weather, a trip down to the winery with a tasting included, might just be the remedy to cool you down. Sampling their most recent consignment of the best-selling Fontaine Rosé and perhaps adding a bottle or two to your cellar, Ben Portet suggests a casual refreshing accompaniment of “a salmon terrine and a glass of Rosé, perfect for Australia’s current climate”. And with the picturesque backdrop of the Yarra Valley Ranges, it’s no surprise why Dominique Portet is so highly regarded. Ben’s tradition in the winery is to, “produce wines to match with food.”

Ben and his family’s extensive knowledge of winemaking has evolved through experience and traveling through many of the world’s most notorious vineyards. As well as being fluent in French, Ben translates his cultural experiences through his wine to the customers. Ben recommends that, “wine should be subtle and versatile with food, it should not overpower any meal. And most importantly drink it and enjoy it.” One thing in particular that Ben and many other winemakers have noticed is that “we in Australia are very open to new ideas, whereas old world countries can take longer to evolve. Our innovative spirit and respect for tradition help us to evolve quickly and produce wines that can be compared to any other quality producing area of the world. The young generation often travel, and return with new ideas that add to our strength as a region.” With this continuous adaptation to such a fluid industry, it’s no wonder that wineries like Portet are so internationally well-received.

Dominique Portet’s luscious greenery also brings an influx to their Barrel Room, “where private functions – large or small – can be held and catered for. Barrel tastings and winery tours are also available.” Weddings are also held at the winery and if you were to stand before the maze-like rows and breathe in that uniquely sweetened air, it comes as no surprise that many couples find this the perfect location for their special day. Ben recently held his own ceremony amongst the vineyards, adding a wonderful milestone to Portet’s already rich history.

We left Ben with one final question, asking if he had always desired to be a winemaker or if it was more to uphold filial tradition, Ben replied, “when you grow up amongst the vines I think it’s in your blood.” And after experiencing a full day at the vineyards ourselves, I can guarantee it’ll be in your blood too.

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Lena Tuck

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