Pyrenees Vignerons Association: www.pyrenees.org.au
The French Remy Martin group put vines in here in the 1960s but they were Trebbiano and Doradillo to make brandy. However, they did make the shift to table wines and in 1982 some rather good red wines came out under their Blue Pyrenees label. By this stage Mount Avoca, Dalwhinnie and Redman (now Sally's Paddock) were up and running.
The big growth in the number of wineries occurred in the late 1990s. There are now about twenty wineries. Most of the viticulture lies on the wind protected eastern side of the Pyrenees Ranges near Avoca and Moonambel but there are now a few vineyards such as Horvatt on the cooler south-western side.
The most impressive facility for wine tourists is at Warrenmang which as cabin-style accommodation and a good restaurant. Their "Grand Pyrenees", a Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Shiraz blend, is a stand out for the region.
Regional Events include the Pink Lamb and Purple Shiraz Race Day held in March at the Avoca Race Course which as the name implies means country horse racing, the region's wines and lamb dishes.
The first wine-producing vines in the region were planted in the 1880s but there were only a couple of significant wineries. One was purchased by a methodist minister in 1929 who ripped out the vines and smashed the machinery. Viticulture ceased in the region by 1945.
The Australian Pyrenees - along with the Grampians further west - are the last outbreak of the Great Dividing Range that stretches down to here from Queensland.
Unlike a lot of the regions running along the backbone of the Great Dividing Ranges it is temperate mid-range region rather than a cool climate region. Most of the wineries are in the area between Avoca, Moonambel and Redbank at between 200 - 460 m on medium yielding sandy loams and red sandstone.
The inland climate gives protection from humidity-related diseases but the low summer rainfall makes irrigation necessary. It was principally a gold mining district in the nineteenth century and then a sheep grazing area. There is some sparkling wine, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Mount Avoca make an attractive barrel fermented Viognier.
However, it is quintessential Australian red wine country, usually in a rich, extracted and sweet style with plenty of American oak, a touch of earthiness and slightly dusty tannins. Shiraz does the best here but there is plenty of ripe and full bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot that needs cooler vintages to finesse.