Discovering Prosecco In Australia And The King Valley

Written by: Matthew Raica



Time to read 9 min

Welcome to the King Valley, a hidden gem nestled in the heart of Victoria, Australia, where rolling hills and lush vineyards paint a picturesque landscape that tells a story of Italian heritage, passion, and exquisite craftsmanship. 

Join us on a virtual tour of this enchanting region, where the echoes of Northern Italy reverberate through the valleys and the vines. As we embark on this journey, we'll explore the rich tapestry of winemaking traditions that have been carefully woven into the fabric of the King Valley. 

From the first sip of a Prosecco, a controversial wine in recent news, to the lingering aroma of a finely crafted Nebbiolo, each wine tells a tale of dedication and innovation that spans generations. But our adventure doesn't stop there; the King Valley is also a culinary haven, where Italian-inspired flavors dance on the palate, perfectly complementing the world-class wines that define this region. 

So, let's uncork the magic, savor the flavours, and immerse ourselves in the Italian-infused charm of the King Valley. Welcome to a journey of taste, tradition, and the timeless allure of Australian winemaking.

The Battle for Prosecco in Australia:

Just to give you a little history, the King Valley has been in a battle the last few years over the name of their favorite wine: Prosecco.  

Previously the name of the grape used to produce this delicious bubbly, the Italian government in 2009 changed the name of the variety to Glera and awarded the name Prosecco DOCG (Denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) 

The King Valley has been in a battle to protect this legacy wine in their region.  So, we went to find out what the real story is, and whether King Valley Prosecco can hold its own with the Italian king of sparkling wine.

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Wineries and Vineyards:

John Gehrig Wines

John Gehrig Cellar Door, one of the top producers of Prosecco in Australia

John Gehrig, a fourth generation winemaker, establish his eponymous winery in the Milawa gourmet region of King Vallley in 1971.  The focus is on wines of place and showing a true representation of the vineyard.  

Son Ross is now running the winery, and in 2011 expanded to include a vineyard and cellar door in Rutherglen, his father’s birthplace.  Ross and his wife Meghan now keep this family farm running and producing some interesting wines.

Redbank Wines

Cheese and Charcuterie platter at Redbank Vineyard, a producer of prosecco in Australia

Redbank Wines is a partnership of 3 families with long ties to the Victorian grape industry.  The cellar door, housed in the Milawa Providore, offers tasting of the eclectic lineup from this small producer.  

Make sure to try the Fiano, a delicious savoury white wine.  Their 12 year Grand Muscat is also a must purchase.  They introduced us to the wine pairing it with Murray River Salted Caramel TimTams….. This may be the best dessert ever!

The Milawa Providore is housed in the Cellar Door as well, brewing up one of the best espresso we've had and knocking out some beautiful and tasty charcuterie boards.

“Prosecco is proof that good things come in bubbly packages.”


Watch our YouTube video here as we tour King Valley over King's weekend!

Dal Zotto Wines

Trying Nebbiolo at Dal Zotto, one of the founding producers of Prosecco in Australia

Dal Zotto Wines, nestled in the picturesque King Valley of Australia, has a rich and compelling history that traces its roots in Australia back to the 1960s. The winery's story begins with the Dal Zotto family, Italian immigrants who brought with them a passion for winemaking from their homeland. In 1987, Otto Dal Zotto planted his first vines in the King Valley, marking the inception of what would become a celebrated winemaking journey. 

The family's commitment to crafting high-quality wines using traditional Italian methods has earned Dal Zotto a reputation for excellence. Specializing in Italian varietals and, since, 1999, the driving force behind the development of Prosecco in Australia, the winery has played a pivotal role in establishing the King Valley as a premier cool-climate wine region in Australia. Over the years,

 Dal Zotto Wines has garnered accolades for its innovative approach, dedication to sustainability, and the seamless fusion of Italian winemaking heritage with the unique terroir of the King Valley. Today, Dal Zotto continues to be a beacon of quality and authenticity, offering wine enthusiasts a taste of the family's enduring legacy and the King Valley's distinct viticultural charm.

The Pucino Prosecco is Dal Zotto’s largest producing non-vintage prosecco, available in most reputable wine shops.  The vintage prosecco takes this wine to a whole new level; full of apple and pear notes with just the slightest citrus and floral to balance it  out, it is definitely work the extra $5 or so over the non-vintage.  Their line of sparkling wines just build from there, becoming more refined and interesting as you move up to the reserve bottlings. 

Don’t shrug at their still wines though.  The Nebbiolo stands as some of the best representation of the varietal we’ve tasted in Australia.  We snagged a 2005 Riesling while there for a killer price and just drank it a week ago after hauling it around for 6 months…. The petrol notes on this aged wine were much more subtle than we anticipated, and the savoury characters made this wine one to sit and think about.  We loved it.

The Cellar Door is open daily however bookings are ESSENTIAL as the space is intimate and the tastings are education focused.  Ensure you taste through all the sparkling variations, as these guys are defintely toe top producers of prosecco in Australia


Speaking with Otto Dal Zotto, founder of the family winery and one of the first producers of Prosecco in Australia

A few necessary Prosecco accessories!

Pizzini Wines

Matthew speaking with winemaker Joel Pizzini in the vineyard,one of the top producers of Prosecco in Australia

Pizzini Wines boasts a captivating history that reflects the family's deep connection to winemaking and their Italian heritage. The Pizzini story began in 1978 when Alfredo and Katrina Pizzini planted their first vines in the King Valley. 

Drawing on the traditions of their northern Italian origins, particularly from the Trentino region, the Pizzini family pioneered the cultivation of Italian grape varieties in the region.Crafting their first wine under the Pizzini name in 1994, they have become synonymous with producing exceptional cool-climate wines, specializing in Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, and Pinot Grigio. 

Pizzini Wines has played a pivotal role in elevating the King Valley's reputation as a leading wine destination, combining Old World winemaking techniques with a commitment to sustainable practices. The winery's dedication to quality and authenticity has earned them numerous awards and accolades, making Pizzini a respected name not only in the King Valley but also in the broader Australian wine scene. Today, 

Pizzini Wines stands as a testament to the family's passion for winemaking, their cultural heritage, and their ongoing contribution to the vibrant viticultural landscape of the King Valley.

Make sure to try their Sangiovese!  This is a difficult grape to get right, and the Pizzini family are some of the closest to a proper sangiovese we have found in Australia! 

Pizzini Wines Cellar Door is open 7 days a week.  Bookings are strongly encouraged, but if you find yourself in the area they  will try to accommodate. If you prefer sitting outside on the sprawling lawn, they also pour wines by the glass and have cheese and salumni plates available.

La Cantina King Valley

La Cantina King Valley Cellar Door, a producer of prosecco in Australia

Gino Corsini arrived in Australia in 1952 at 19 years old, but it wasnt until 1980, after multiple moves around Australia and multiple job changes that the family owned a piece of land and the first grapes were planted.  As most of the vintners in the King Valley, the Corsini family had their start growing grapes for Brown Brothers of Milawa.  

It wasn’t until 1992 when Gino’s eldest grandaughter insisted his homemade wines were poured at her wedding that the greater population learned about this secret little nectar Gino was making.  The winery was established in 1995 and the Tuscan style cellar door built in 1997. 

La Cantina focuses on a natural winemaking style with minimal interventions and no preservatives added (i.e. no added sulphur!)  This isn’t the well known “natural” wine movement that tends towards a bit funkier wine; this is true natural winemaking resulting in clean, pure wines with ageability.  The real standout wine in this lineup is their Saperavi.  A less well-known grape, it produces an inky black wine full of dark fruit flavours, big chewy tannins, and a long finish that makes each taste last minutes.

The cellar door is open daily for complementary tastings.  Make sure to stop into this gorgeous little Tuscan house and taste some amazing Italian wines!

Chrismont Wines

Aerial view of Chrismont Cellar Door, one of the top families making prosecco in Australia

Established in 1980, Chrismont Wines in Victoria's King Valley embodies two generations of grape growing and winemaking, celebrating the family's Italian heritage. Arnold Pizzini, an immigrant from Northern Italy, initially worked in the booming tobacco industry in King Valley. However, after the collapse of the tobacco industry, his son Arnie suggested transitioning to grape growing, reminiscent of their Italian roots. 

The vineyards, planted with Barbera, Riesling, and Chardonnay in 1980, gradually expanded. Arnie's vision led to the production of table wines under the family label, Chrismont. In 2004, the winery and estate fruit were entrusted to winemaker Warren Proft.

 In 2015, Chrismont opened a state-of-the-art complex, the Chrismont Cellar Door, Restaurant, and Larder, a culmination of a 20-year dream for Arnie and Jo, blending contemporary winemaking with King Valley hospitality. The estate, where Arnie, wife Jo, and their daughter Sofia reside, epitomizes Chrismont's commitment to hospitality, flavor, and community engagement.

As every winery does in the King Valley, Chrismont produces a prosecco under the La Zona line.  This wine is full of apple and melon flavours with elegant citrus peel and white florals on the nose.  We made a bottle of this disappear during lunch!

The restaurant at Chrismont is a high class meal.  We shared to mains for our lunch.  The pappardelle tossed with short rib beef ragu, topped with ricotta was some of the best pasta we’ve had outside of Italy.  Chloe had been craving duck for a while, so of course we had to split the confit duck leg, served with baked celeriac, pear, pickled red cabbage salad and thyme creme.  To finish off, we shared the lemon & mascarpone cheesecake.  This meal ranks up there with one of the best we’ve had in Australia.

The Cellar Door is open every day for tasting.  The restaurant is open for lunch service 5 days a week, closed Tuesday and Wednesday.  Bookings are not required but are highly recommended.

Pappardelle tossed with short rib beef ragu, topped with ricotta
Confit of duck leg, with baked celeriac, pear, pickled red cabbage salad and thyme creme
Lemon and Mascarpone cheesecake

As our tour of the enchanting King Valley in Australia comes to a close, it's impossible to overlook the profound influence of Italian heritage on this picturesque region. The fusion of Australian terroir with the winemaking traditions brought by Italian immigrants has created a unique and vibrant wine landscape. The vineyards, with their rolling hills and meticulous rows of vines, tell a story of dedication and passion passed down through generations. The wines produced here, from the bright and fresh Prosecco to  elegant Italian reds, stand as a testament to the region's commitment to excellence and innovation.

But it's not only about the wines; the King Valley experience is a symphony of flavors that extends to the table. The local cuisine, inspired by the diverse regions of Italy, tantalizes the taste buds with authentic and delicious offerings. The food scene in King Valley complements the exquisite wines, creating a sensory journey that lingers in memory.

In the heart of this gastronomic and oenophilic haven, the warm embrace of Italian hospitality prevails. Whether you've explored family-run vineyards, shared stories with winemakers, or indulged in a leisurely meal overlooking the picturesque landscapes, the King Valley invites you to savor the essence of its Italian heritage. 

As you bid farewell, you carry not just the taste of exceptional wines and delightful food but also the spirit of a community deeply connected to its roots, inviting you to return and continue this enriching journey through the heart of Italian-Australian winemaking.


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