Nillahcootie Estate is located in North East Victoria on the Midland Highway between Mansfield and Benalla.
In 2009 Jim and Maria Kakridas, wine lovers, purchased the Estate with big plans for their family’s future. Their daughter Christina took charge of business operations and in two short years has managed to turn Nillahcootie Estate vineyard into a family owned and operated business. Jim and Maria’s children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces all contribute from vineyard to company management.
Leaving the winemaking to some local experts including Ros Ritchie, Sam Plunket and David Ritchie just to name a few. This now family owned and operated Estate is progressing into the local and Melbourne Metropolitan markets and beginning to move their way into the International markets with primary focus on China the United States of America.
Varieties include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Merlot and more recently Semillion. The cool climate and close proximity to Lake Nillahcootie, allows for the production of premium wines.
Nillahcootie Estate Vineyards are located at the northern end of Lake Nillahcootie in the Upper Broken River Valley. The first vines were planted on the property in 1988 in a small three acre block known as Maggie’s Paddock. The total length of the vineyard is nineteen and a half kilometers!
Harvest normally occurs in early April when the fruit has fully ripened and sugar levels are optimal. Cropping levels range from 2.5 to 3.5 tonnes per acre, depending upon the variety. At full production the vineyard produces approximately 50 tonnes of grapes. Picking is undertaken by hand to minimize the need for sulphur, which often must be added to mechanically harvested fruit to prevent early fermentation by naturally occurring yeasts. The fruit is loaded into 500kg picking bins and transported as quickly as practicable to the winery for crushing.
The close proximity of the vineyards to Lake Nillahcootie (a 40,000 ML reservoir) reduces the incidence of frost and the risk of damage during the early stages of growth. Furthermore, being located in a valley orientated north/south, the vineyard experiences consistent airflows which substantially reduces the incidence of diseases to the vines. This aids management practices which aim to minimize the use of chemicals during the growing season.
Lake Nillahcootie is the centerpiece of the valley, providing a playground for all lovers of water sports, including waterskiing, fishing and sailing. There are many interesting features to visit around the Estate including the Sandy Creek waterfalls, crystal mines and Mt Samaria State Park. The Estate is less than one hour drive from Victoria's most popular ski resort, Mt Buller.
The Strathbogie Ranges extend to the western boundary of the Estate, from which a range of activities can be undertaken including horse riding, trail bike riding, hiking and four-wheel driving. Sightings of wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, echidnas, wombats and deer are common in the Ranges and throughout the valley.
Benalla is the closest regional centre, located 30 kilometres (20 minute drive) to the north. Benalla is famous for its rose gardens, Art Gallery, and is the home of the Victorian Gliding Club. Benalla has a population of 10,000.
If you are seeking more of a country village atmosphere, Mansfield lies just 28 kilometres (20 minute drive) to the south of the Estate. Mansfield, made famous by the film "The Man from Snowy River", offers a range of adventure tourism activities
The small centre of Swanpool, just 15 kilometres (10 minutes drive) to the north of the Estate, one of Victoria's oldest cinemas (1950's style), with a mix of latest releases and classics shown each Friday and Saturday nights, as well as throughout school holidays.