In South Africa, vineyards and wineries are not called vineyards or wineries. Instead, they’re known as ‘wine farms’. Winemaker Neil Hawkins is from South Africa, so The Wine Farm was the perfect name for his Gippsland winery.

It’s set in Koonwarra, not far from Inverloch and Leongatha, on some of the most incredible soils in Gippsland. You can literally see the point where they change from grey loam to mineral-rich red. On them, he’s planted an acre each of eight different varieties – Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Chardonnay, and Syrah. With such small plantings of such high quality wine, it’s easy to imagine how quickly these bottles sell out.

Hawkins’ career was built in wineries in his native South Africa, France and New Zealand, and he probably would have stayed home had a girl not walked in for a tasting one day and “stuffed everything up.” He followed her to Australia around eight years ago where they married, and in 2014 they took over what is now called the Wine Farm.

Beyond the beautiful soils, Hawkins finds the cold climate in Gippsland particularly appealing for the intensity of flavour it develops in the fruit. He makes wines with little intervention, uses stems and doesn’t fine or filter.

There is a tasting room on site, and stopping by is well worth your time. It’s open regularly in summer, although by appointment only in winter. Check the website for details.

The Wine Farm
370 Koonwarra-Inverloch Rd
Koonwarra VIC 3954