The abandoned mineshaft at our vineyard in Ararat will forever commemorate the fortunate discovery of the Canton Lead, one of the largest shallow alluvial goldfields in history. It was serendipitously discovered in 1857 by 700 southern Chinese miners who stopped in the area to replenish their water supplies, and triggered the beginning of the great Ararat Rush.
After the demise of the gold rush in 1858, two Frenchmen, Messrs. Blampied and Trouette, planted vines in the region at Great Western. Shortly after, Joseph and Henry Best also established vineyards there, using ex-miners to dig underground drives to house the wines. In this wine village of Great Western, the sparkling wine industry of Australia was born.
Over the years several wine growers followed in Best’s footsteps and the district continued to flourish. In 1970, the McRae family planted the first Montara vineyards on the eastern slopes of Mount Chalambar, a site chosen for its frost-free location. The inaugural Montara vintages were released in 1977.
Today the Grampians is one of Australia’s most historic wine regions, with 2013 marking 150 years of winemaking across a wide range of varieties and styles.