The vines, they are a changin’

February 23, 2024 BY

Vintage time can mean working for two weeks straight, with all hands on deck.

Harvest: it’s the most important date in the annual dairy for wineries the world over.Vintage time in the vines brings a mixtures of urgency, joy, nerves, and a lot of hard work.

The norm is early (and long) days spent out in the sun picking and sorting, followed by a knock or seven, and probably a barbecue out the back of the winery. For larger wineries, this can be two weeks straight with all hands on deck required (meaning forget about weekends off), even including the marketing manager who sits in an office the other 50 weeks of the year.

As we descend into vintage 2024 across our local Geelong wine region, the overall tone for many is that of optimism and hope. Among the handful of local growers and makers I’ve been chatting with, Angus Pollard, assistant winemaker at Bannockburn Vineyards, remains upbeat. Based in the Moorabool Valley (one of three unique sub-regions of our Geelong vine growing area – the other two being the Bellarine Peninsula and the Surf Coast/Otways), he is quietly confident this year’s crop will be one of both quality and quantity.

“We are currently entering the final stages of ripening for vintage 2024 and our excitement grows with each passing day for what is shaping up to be a wonderful vintage” muses Gus, perhaps with just a hint of uncertainty still, as picking time is still an estimated week or two away.

The overall tone for many about Geelong’s 2024 vintage is of optimism and hope.


“The pace of the growing season has been unpredictable but as we approach harvest time the vines are very healthy… and the quality potential is clearly evident.” Let’s all get excited.

In getting in the spirit of harvest time, here’s a couple of wines from last year’s vintage worthy of your attention, as it will indeed be months (and for the reds, years) until we’re able to try any of the wines from the coming 2024 vintage:

2023 Mulline Pinot Noir: true to its nature, this drink-early version of everybody’s favourite red grape is a textbook example on all the things we love about young pinot noir: an alluring bright purple colour; a whiff of dark spice; loads of generous cherry/berry/strawberry fruit goodness; and a clean, balanced acidic backbone to finish. In a word: yum.

2023 Bannockburn Vineyards 1314 rosé: the baby sibling of the winery’s standard label, the 1314 ranges offers value, approachability, and seriously good drinking pleasure. All the fruit comes from the estate’s vineyard (ie none is purchased in or outsourced) meaning total control in maintained from grape growth to finished product. Refreshment drinking aplenty and such a no-brainer when it comes to warmer night outdoors with (or without) food.

2023 Mazzini Fiano: this Geelong based micro-negociant (basically someone who doesn’t own any vineyards but buys grapes from reputable sources and has wine made for them) has been chipping away for nearly 10 years now, offering honest varietal expressions of interest and value. One of our lesser seen – but by no means lesser quality – white grapes out there, fiano produces a medium bodied, textural variety hailing from the south of Italy. Great food wine here, with versatility being it’s middle name.

If you’re wondering where to find any of the above wines, or the most impressive range of Geelong wines for that matter, the best of our local liquour stockists are (for me) Torquay’s Corkscrew Cellars, Geelong West favourite Winepress, Barwon Heads Wine Store, and Geelong Cellar Door in the CBD (Little Malop Street).

Winery cellar door visits at this time of year can often be tricky, as many of the staff are helping out in the vines.


Want a piece of the action? Some wineries actually welcome you to become involved in the harvest festivities and get your hands dirty (and believe me, you will get your hands dirty). Austin’s Wines is one local winery that offers the public a chance to pick and pluck in their vines, and then see the transfer, sorting and crushing of grapes in the winery itself. Great for anyone who’s always want to see firsthand a winery at its busiest. Be warned though: it probably ain’t as glamourous as what you hope for (and you certainly won’t be standing around sipping bits of freshly squashed grapes from this parcel and that parcel)!

To keep in mind: winery cellar doors around this time of year can often be tricky to visit, as many of the staff are helping out in the vines, particularly on weekends. Large operations should be okay to welcome guests, but the smaller the winery, chances become limited.

In other local foodie news, after a four year hiatus, we’ll be celebrating the return of Lara Food & Wine Festival in the coming few weeks. We’ll cover off on all that’s happening here next article, but start to look forward to their famous produce championships, live culinary challenges on stage, farmers stalls, and great live local music. Put it in the calendar now: Sunday March 24.

An estimated 10,000 guests are set to welcome back this truly missed, annual event for Geelong foodies.

More to come.