Beat's guide to Melbourne's best wineries and distilleries

Four Pillars Gin

How did Four Pillars come together in the first place?

It was three of us that established Four Pillars. Cam [Mackenzie] and Stu [Gregor] had worked in wine for years, and were really excited about the flavour potential for a truly modern Australian gin. Matt [Jones] came from a creative background, and loved the idea of building a craft brand that reflected the best of creative Australia. 

How do you see the strength of the local gin market?

We’re super lucky in Melbourne to have such amazing local produce and flavours to draw on, and such an incredible bartending and cocktail culture to collaborate with. The great news is that people are looking to drink better, not more, and the craft gin movement is a huge part of making that possible. 

How does Four Pillars stand apart from the competition?

We make a lot of different gins, and each draws on a variety of techniques to maximize their purity and all-round deliciousness. From steeping local shiraz grapes in gin to make our Bloody Shiraz gin to our signature use of fresh citrus in our hero Rare Dry gin, the aim is always to create ridiculously delicious and drinkable gins that smash it when made into great drinks. 

Where did the inspiration for your Bloody Shiraz gin come from?

Our Bloody Shiraz gin is an amazing Australian take on Sloe gin. The inspiration came from being located in the Yarra Valley – great wine country – and the ability to ‘borrow’ some delicious local shiraz grapes from a friendly winemaker (Rob Dolan). We steeped the grapes in gin for ten weeks, stirring them every day, then pressed the grapes and out came the gin along with all that purple fruity colour and delicious sweet flavours.

Four Pillars Gin is located at 2A Lilydale Rd, Healsville. Check out their selection on their website.

Rob Dolan Wines

After twenty-five years finessing his craft for some of Australia’s most respected wine labels, 2010 marked a significant milestone in Rob Dolan’s career – the year to launch his own label, aptly titled Rob Dolan Wines.

Since then, Dolan has launched a special and creative offshoot, titled the Cellar Door (established in 2016). The intimate space has been incorporated into the properties’ original farmhouse which is set on over 100 acres of rolling farmland and vineyard.

Our friendly and knowledgeable Cellar Door staff are on hand to guide visitors through a comprehensive tasting of our range of wines. Visitors are welcome to purchase wine to take away, enjoy on the deck or in our gardens over a game of Bocce or Finska.

A selection of local produce including Stone and Crow Cheese is available seven days a week; these innovative and experimental cheeses are matured at the winery by Cellar Door founder and cheesemaker Jack Holman. 

Visitors are able to make their own platter with accompaniments such as City Larder pate and terrine, Mount Zero Olives, Crackers by The Farm Yarra Valley and our very own range of Rob Dolan pickles, pastes, relishes and jellies.

Also on offer is a selection of craft coffee, tea and non-alcoholic drinks. 

Rob Dolan Wines is located at 21-23 Delaneys Rd, Warrandyte South and is open seven days a week. Head to the winery website for more information on the Cellar Door.

Lyons Will Estate

Established in 1996, what makes Lyons Will Estate stand out from other competing wineries?

Because we are relatively small and it’s just Renata and I [Oliver Rapson], we get to manage everything from the vineyard to the winery. Keeping things small gives us the ability to be hands on and put our personality into things. All of our wines are picked in the morning by hand and we start fermentation that afternoon. 

Where are you located and why is this area so conducive to winemaking?

The Macedon Ranges is a stunning slice of the world, when we first moved here we couldn’t believe it was only an hour out of Melbourne. The cool nights make it perfect conditions for growing cold climate varietals such as Pinot, Chardonnay, Riesling and Gamay. 

What practices have you been putting in place to ensure you’re ahead of the game?

We believe in the combination of art and science, so where we can, we apply old school methods (such as using indigenous yeast, a basket press and vegan friendly fining techniques). In other instances modern technology is invaluable, like a bird scaring sound system that imitates 12 species of birds in distress.

What is your most popular wine at the moment and why are people so drawn to it?

Different horses to different courses – at the moment though there is a lot of hype around the Gamay, as we are one of a handful of growers nationally. Also, our Riesling is getting a bit of attention as it’s made in a bit of a different way to the norm. That being said, the Chardy sells out and the Pinot is our biggest seller by volume.

Lyons Will Estate is located at 60 Whalans Track, Lancefield. Check out their selection via their website.