The Magic of Victoria’s King Valley

King Valley, Victoria, wine makers

The picturesque King Valley -home to fine wines, great food and stunning views. Pic supplied by Pizzini Wines

Once you visit the fabulous King Valley, chances are you’ll be back.

It has that magical effect on all who discover the little patch of paradise in Victoria’s high country that is well known for its fabulous wines, gourmet food and warm country hospitality.

Meet the Winemakers

Drop into any of the boutique wineries, large or small, you may well be greeted by the winemaker or one of the family.

Located in northeast Victoria, it’s a three-hour drive from Melbourne and two hours drive from Albury.

King Valley stretches 75 kilometres south from Wangaratta into the Alpine National Park and includes the towns of Oxley, Milawa, Moyhu, Whitfield, Cheshunt and Myrrhee.

The pretty valley is often likened to pockets of Italy and no wonder many Italian migrants ventured here in the 1940s and 50s because it reminded them of their beloved homeland.

In those days it was all about tobacco, but these days it is about manicured vineyards, award-winning wines, fabulous food and genuine Italian-style hospitality.

Do a Winery Hop

winery, King Valley, Victoria

Grapes on a vine in King Valley

It is perfect for a winery hop, boasting some of the highest-altitude vineyards in the country producing prosecco, riesling, shiraz, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, barbera, Verduzco, Brachetto and Arneis, as well as rarer Italian varietals.

Pizzini Wines

The Pizzini Wines Kilns in the heart of the King Valley

Close to the town of Whitfield you will find Pizzini Wines where Fred Pizzini planted his first Riesling vines in 1978 after growing up on a tobacco farm with his parents, who also left the Italian Alps for a new life in Australia.

It’s a family affair, with son Joel making wines that include award-winning pinot grigio, riesling, Arneis, shiraz, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and vin santo, a rare Italian dessert wine.

Joel says his love of winemaking came from growing up on the farm and being out in the vineyard.

“There’s a strong sense of our Italian family traditions being passed down, while still keeping up with all the new things we want to do,” says Joel.

Try a tasting at the cellar door or sign up for an inspiring cooking class with Fred’s wife, Katrina, who learned to cook when she lived with her Italian mother-in-law for the first 12 months of her married life.

Pizzini A tavola! cooking school – pasta making pic by Jamie Durrant

She now shares her treasured recipes at her hands on A Tavola! Cooking School, where you can learn how to make pasta, ravioli and gnocchi the true Italian way.  A new Pop and Fizz Prosecco food pairing experience shows surprising matches.

Gnocchi with Burnt Butter and Sage at Pizzini Wines

Chrismont Wines

Stunning views from Chrismont restaurant where Italian dishes feature.

Arnie Pizzini who established Chrismont Wines with his father in 1980, opened the stunning Chrismont Restaurant, Cellar Door and Larder with wife Jo in 2015 at Cheshunt.

Designed to appear to hover above the vineyards, you experience warm genuine Italian hospitality, excellent wines and an Italian inspired menu – a mix of the couples’ northern and southern Italian heritage.

Chef Amit Kumar who worked in Milan and surrounds for many years, fell in love with the King Valley and its fresh produce.

Menu highlights include house-made pappardelle with beef cheek, lamb and pork ragu, topped with stracciatella and a finale of decadent mille foglie, ‘thousand layers’ of puff pastry, fresh strawberries and chantilly coconut cream.

Arnie describes the area as a very special place.

“It has a similar climate and landscape to Piemonte and Tuscany in Italy, and Alsace in France, so it enables us to produce rich cool-climate wines,” he says.

Arnie’s wines, a diverse collection of Italian and classic European varietal wines across the Chrismont, La Zona and Riserva collections, are made with passion.

New drops include Chrismont La Zona King Valley Barbera 2016 with an aroma of red cherries and plum, and a cinnamon spice oak background.

Chrismont Wines serve fabulous Italian style dishes

Larder stocks feature Sicilian pickled melanzane, cumquats in syrup, chocolate spicy walnut biscotti, and orange and ruby grapefruit marmellata.

Dal Zotto Wines

Michael and Christian Dal Zotto helped pioneer the Prosecco Road.

Guests are welcomed to Dal Zotto’s in Whitfield with the word “Buongiorno” scrawled on a blackboard as they drive in. The popular winery is known for its many award-winning drops, including its acclaimed prosecco and warm hospitality.

The winemaking family including Otto, his wife Elena, and sons, Michael and Christian pioneered prosecco in Australia, planting it in 1999.

Winemaker Michael joined Otto, who started making wines in 1987 after emigrating from Italy in 1967 and growing tobacco. He describes the King Valley as one of the most beautiful places he has ever seen.

“I love seeing people’s reactions when they arrive and take their first look at the hills and countryside, they are overwhelmed at times,” says Michael.

The winery’s popular Trattoria has an Italian-inspired menu with antipasto, gnocchi and handmade pasta and great pizzas. The Otto is topped with San Daniele prosciutto, red onion, capers, mushroom, rosemary and buffalo mozzarella. Latest offerings include the limited release Tabelo Col Fondo Prosecco 2017 –named in honour of Otto’s late father, Giovanni, and a sparkling Nebbiolo 2016.

Chef Nikki Kennedy, who loves using the fresh produce from the garden, says her favourite dishes are rich braises such as osso bucco. New events include the Cento Passi experience – meaning 100 steps from the garden to the table. Wines will be matched to four seasonal dishes plus a property walk with a family member.

Family matriarch Nonna Elena will show her much-loved vegie garden with precious produce that ends up on the Trattoria table.

You can also play bocce and drop by the well-loved vegetable garden brimming with zucchini, bountiful basil, eggplants, beans and meandering pumpkin vines along with magnificent valley views that seem to go on forever.

Guests are welcomed to Dal Zotto’s in Whitfield with the word “Buongiorno” scrawled on a blackboard as they drive in. The popular winery is known for its many award-winning drops, including its acclaimed prosecco and warm hospitality.

Prosecco Road

For those who love Italian bubbly, Dal Zotto is among the movers and shakers behind the Prosecco Road tasting route along with Chrismont, Pizzini, Brown Brothers and Sam Miranda wineries.

The route stretches 50 kilometres from the Milawa Gourmet Region to Cheshunt and offers a variety of intimate prosecco tastings and culinary experiences showcasing the simple pleasures of prosecco.

Sambar Hills

Wake up to vineyard and mountain views at Sambar Hills accommodation

A great base is the impressive Sambar Hills at Cheshunt South which features three stylish self-contained retreats in a picturesque setting overlooking manicured vineyards, tall gums and towering bushland.

Sambar Hills boasts picturesque views and highland cows

Sally and Jamie Keith, who have always loved the area, moved from Shellharbour with their four young children for the new venture.

Jamie, a builder, converted the former stadium corporate boxes into sleek accommodation and transported them from the coast.

There’s a cosy living area with a kitchenette, microwave and a barbecue on the deck.

The adjoining open plan bedroom has a queen bed, plush decor and freestanding bath and shower.

A fire pit with wood at the ready is perfect for sitting around and stargazing in the clear night skies with a King Valley drop in hand.

“We want people to come here and relax and just enjoy this beautiful part of the world,” Sally says.

Named after the sambar deer that roam the bushlands, it is perfect for a weekend getaway or short break and a place you don’t want to leave in a hurry.

It is all about slowing down and appreciating mother nature in all her glory with ever-changing hues as the light changes.

We spot beautiful birds resting on the vines and enjoy a walk while keeping an eye out for the resident koala, nicknamed Caramello.

After a winery hop, it is great to soak in the bath overlooking the vineyards and later fall asleep serenaded by the King River.

Sambar Hills offers beautiful accommodation

Gin and Craft Beer

Gin and craft beer also feature in this area.

Nathan and Briana Munt established King River Brewing in 2016 and offer a variety of beers with “big tastes”. A beer paddle can include King Valley Kolsh – the bestseller, smooth Altbier, Wet Hopped Galaxy, and Robust Fig Poter.

Briana’s father Walter Sartori oversees the wood-fired pizza oven at the Whitfield Road brewery. Pump It Up is a firm favourite with onion jam, rosemary roasted pumpkin, Tolpuddle goats cheese and fresh rocket while the King River Special is topped with Italian sausage, organic kalamata olive, capers and grana Padano parmesan. The verdict – “cibo delizioso.”

Simon Brook-Taylor and partner Wendy make interesting gin at their small-batch gin distillery, Hurdle Creek Still at Bobinawarrah.

Step inside the rustic Still House where all the gins are made and bottled on-site, for a tasting.

“What sets out gins apart from others is the distilled base spirit is made from locally sourced grain using a traditional infusion mashing system which gives our gin a unique grain character,” Simon says.

“The juniper and a select blend of local and native botanicals – some of which are grown in our garden – are vapour infused into the spirit ensuing light, subtle flavours throughout our gins.”

Bestsellers include Yardarm Gin with classical botanicals, Aniseed Gin, Powder Monkey-Navy Strength Gin, Grain Jenever plus a French-style Pastis and Dark Cacao liqueur.


Powers Lookout

On a fine day, head to lofty Powers Lookout for the best views over the King Valley and beyond.  Vistas of manicured farmlands, neat wineries, tiny townships, rugged cliffs and tree-covered hills, unfold. It’s a 15-minute drive from Whitfield and was the hideout of “gentleman bushranger” Harry Powers, who earned his nickname as he was courteous to women and sympathetic to those with only a few shillings. He hid from troopers until he was captured after a tip-off from a Kelly Gang member on June 5, 1870. Legend has it he once described the area as the finest sights in the world. It is a bit of a climb to the second lookout but well worth it as you gaze over magnificent countryside.

Paradise Falls

A trip to Paradise Falls is a must

Paradise Falls, located in the Alpine National Park, a 20-minute drive from Cheshunt in the Upper King Valley is another highlight. Follow a steep stone step track through fragrant bushland to see twin streams of crystal-clear water tumbling from the cliffs above.

Venture to the curved rockface where you can stand behind the waterfall and watch it spill over the rocks.

Sparkling Lake William Hovell, 18 kilometres from Cheshunt is perfect for fishing, bush walks, fishing, cycling, canoeing and four-wheel driving.

Don’t Miss

The King Valley and its residents know how to party and this year’s popular La Dolce Vita Wine & Food Festival on November 20 and 21 2021 is set to be a grand celebration.

The King Valley is all about the sweet life – any time of the year, but like Michael Dal Zotto says – one visit to the King Valley is never enough.

“It’s the type of place that traps you and you want to keep returning- I’ve seen it so many times,” he says.

The low down



Sambar Hills

Sambar Hills –

Casa Luna Gourmet Accommodation –

Lusso  KV –

Mountain View Hotel Whitfield –

Gentle Annie Caravan and Camping Reserve –


Chrismont –

Dal Zotto –

Pizzini Wines –

HurdleCreek Still Gin Distillery

King Valley Brewing –