The new Mitchelton Hotel is a game-changer for Nagambie.
If you thought a visit to the Goulburn Valley town was about bedding down in the caravan park after messing about on the water, think again.
Nestled among the Mitchelton vines on the banks of the Goulburn River, it has become a destination in itself for gourmet food, wine and luxurious relaxation, and is just one and half hour’s drive from Melbourne.
With river or vineyard views from every generously sized, softly-carpeted room, the hotel is the final, triumphant addition to the Robin Boyd-designed Mitchelton winery; and the first step in realising businessman and philanthropist, Gerry Ryan’s vision for Nagambie.
Over 40 years, Gerry Ryan built up the Jayco caravan brand in Australia and first made investment inroads in the Nagambie area in 1999 with the purchase of his thoroughbred breeding property, Limerick Lane.
And, it’s easy to see why he loves the region’s meandering river and fertile, verdant plains lined with soaring gum trees.
Together with his son Andrew Ryan, he has invested millions to re-invigorate the Mitchelton winery from the top of its ‘witches hat’ viewing tower through to the new 58-bed hotel, day spa, pool, café, re-vamped cellar door, event facilities and restaurant.
And, the renovation doesn’t stop at ground level: underground there’s also an Indigenous Australian art gallery alongside the enormous wine-making cellar.
John Beresford, who has worked at Mitchelton since 1996, initially as a viticulturist and now overseeing the Ryan family’s property development in Nagambie, says the Ryan family were quick to see the potential in Mitchelton back in 2011.
“Now we’ve put the finishing touches on the Nagambie hotel, we’re embarking on the development of a new microbrewery, restaurant and café complex on the Nagambie lakeshore. Our aim is for Nagambie to become one of the top tourism destinations in Victoria.”
Wind whipped around us when we arrived in the Mitchelton car park on a blustery, wet autumn day, but within minutes we were sitting on deep leather sofas beside the warm hotel lobby fire sipping a complimentary 2017 Blackwood Estate Riesling.
Looking wistfully at the sun loungers around the infinity pool outside, I made a mental note to come back in the summer.
Floor to ceiling doors framed in dark wood offset the earthy tones and textures of the Hecker Guthrie-designed hotel rooms, and artworks echoing local horse-racing heritage were a reminder that Nagambie is the birth-place of the legendary Black Caviar, 2012 Australian Racehorse of the Year.
After an indulgent visit to the day spa, eight of us took our seats on a long table in the Muse Restaurant to share platters of Wagyu steak, Kilmore lamb neck and Cone Bay barramundi, to name just a few of the tasty dishes on offer.
A cosy, convivial atmosphere in the high-ceilinged, glass-walled room was nicely complimented by the 2015 Mitchelton Airstrip Marsanne blend, followed by the 2015 Mitchelton Heathcote Shiraz.
We descended in the lift the following morning into a huge art gallery. Curated by Adam Knight, President of the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia, the gallery displays artworks from 15 different art centres and communities.
Rachel Brough, Knight’s assistant described the stories behind the paintings and gave us an insight into varying styles of the artists, including my favourite: Bush Medicine (Bush Leaves) by Jeannie Petyarre.
Before visiting the cellar door, we were lucky enough to be shown around the nerve-centre of the winery by Beresford. At the end of of a long, arched, subterranean tunnel behind wrought iron gates, lines of French-made barrels stretched in every direction with chalk codes indicating harvest years and grapes, waiting their turn to be bottled.
Asked if he misses viticulture, Beresford said: “Yes I do miss it sometimes, but it’s exciting to be involved in building the future of Nagambie; the Ryans have breathed new life into the whole region”.
There’s so much to do in Nagambie on and off the water – take a look at: Things to do in Nagambie to plan your trip.
To book a room at Mitchelton Hotel, go to: Booking.com.