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Brown Brothers is one of the country's oldest and most loved wineries, its Milawa vineyard located in the northern reaches of the King Valley in north-east Victoria.
The winery was established all the way back in 1889 and has been a family-owned company throughout its long history, with the third and fourth generations now running the show. And they go through a LOT of wine – many millions of bottles a year go through the Milawa hub. There are more than 50 varieties to try at the cellar door, and with varieties from light and fruity through to zippy and sparkling, big and bold and sweet and sticky, there is something for everyone. Brown Brothers' winemakers have a dedicated 'kindergarten', where they work on developing new techniques, styles and varieties, as well as perfecting classics.
Take a break from all that wine tasting (it's a hard life, after all) for lunch at Brown Brothers' hatted restaurant, Patricia's Table. Head chef Jarrod Kelley focuses on local, seasonal produce, with a menu that is always evolving. You can get two courses for $65 ($75 with matched wines), three courses for $83 ($98 with matched wines) or go the whole hog five courses for $105 ($120 for half-glasses of matched wines). Vegetarian options are also available. Each course is a perfect balance of salty and sweet, rich and delicate, and the matching wines complement and enhance the flavours.
Brown Brothers offers tours of its extensive facilities for $30, and visitors on the tour are able to see how the wines are made and visit Brown Brothers' cellar, where very old and rare wines are kept for historical record. The tour also visits the kindergarten and primary wine-making facilities, a fascinating insight behind the scenes for anyone who loves wine.
Think you have a pretty good palate? You can blend your own wine for $70 and get the balance exactly as you like it. You're given a white lab coat, like some sort of grape-mad scientist, and three bottles: one merlot, one shiraz, one cabernet sauvignon. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to come up with the perfect blend – and you can take your own personal wine home.
Or if you're feeling particularly flush and you just can't get enough wine, the $1,280 three-day Immersion Package is for you. It includes two nights' accommodation at next-door Lindenwarrah hotel, guided workshops, multi-course lunches at Patricia's Table, a guided tour of the winery, tutored wine tasting and wine blending, plus visits to other gourmet producers in the region. If anyone wants to know what to get us for our birthday, well...
Brown Brothers is the biggest jewel in the King Valley crown and a must-visit for foodies and oenophiles in the region.