Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Wine passion pays off

Fledgling Strathbogie Ranges winery Fowles Wines has shown its class after picking up a bronze medal at the Australian Tourism Awards

FIONA BROOM February 22, 2013 4:30am

Matt and Luise Fowles’ winery has taken out third place at the Australian Tourism Awards in the best winery, distillery or brewery section.

Fledgling Strathbogie Ranges winery Fowles Wine is shooting into the tourism spotlight by plane, train and automobile.

Matt and Luise Fowles’ passion for real food and real wine matches many people’s growing desire to see where their favourite drops and produce come from.

GALLERY: View more photos of Fowles Winery

Their ‘‘get real’’ philosophy secured the business the bronze medal for best winery, distillery or brewery in the recently announced Australian Tourism Awards.

With about 50000 visitors last year, the winery is increasingly attracting attention.

Mr Fowles said its position off Hume Fwy at Avenel brought it a lot of traffic, but its influence spreads wider.

Foodies will soon make their way from Melbourne by art deco train to a lunch at the historic Killeen Stables in Longwood East, where they will be served game meat matched with the winery’s Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch and Are You Game? labels.

And the couple is set to fly to the United States and Canada for a nine-month tour promoting their wines and meeting those who already stock them.

The winery’s appeal is based on it being more than just a cellar door or a restaurant — it’s a tourism destination where people can eat, drink and wander the vines.

The Fowles think wine lovers deserve better than factory-produced plonk and they work hard to provide locally-sourced produce in their restaurant.

They’re also keen to show off the region.

‘‘We use local mushrooms, we supply our own sheep from our farm, we use local beef and we grow our own vegetables,’’ he said.

‘‘We really highlight produce from the region and I’m absolutely certain that’s why our (award) application was successful.

‘‘We encourage people to get real and we see a lot of people enjoying that today.’’

Tours can be booked by anyone keen to view the vines, while there is a standing offer to Friends of Fowles to take people to see the winery and the region.

‘‘We want people to see their wines in their natural form on the vine,’’ Mr Fowles said.

Nature is important to Mr Fowles, who says he has the bush in his blood — his love of hunting led to the creation of the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch range, which was crafted specifically to match wild game meat.

While the Fowles are proud of their young winery, they were amazed to be recognised by the awards judges alongside Hunter Valley stalwart Wyndham Estate, established in 1828, and the Barossa Valley’s picturesque Pindarie Wines.

They said the vineyard’s success as a tourism destination rested with their staff, including ‘‘rock star’’ head chef Adele Aitken, wine concierge Kerrie Carter, customer services manager Ian Firth and assistant manager Sam Booth.

After five years developing the winery’s reputation as a tourism temptation, the Fowles hope to attract more people game to visit their slice of paradise.

‘‘We’ve got years to go and heaps of ideas,’’ they said.

The Are you Game? for a Real Food, Real Wine lunch...? is on Saturday, March 16 at Killeen Stables, Longwood East. For more information, phone Ian Firth on 57962150.

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