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Hot Dram! Meet the distillers and vintners of The Murray

Fossey's Distillery, Mildura. Image credit: Fossey's Distillery

9 Dec. 2021 by Rochelle Vaisanen

Hot Dram! Meet the distillers and vintners of The Murray

Did you know the Murray River region is host to some of the country's best wineries, as well as a handful of distilleries, boutique breweries and even a meadery (an ancient honey wine)?

Sip back and relax in The Murray and taste your way around the region whose creations are as varied as as the landscape, soil and its climate, which changes from east to west.

Learn about how a single block vineyard in Greater Hume works with the land bordering the Woomargarma National Park to produce Mediterranean-style wines and a distillery in Mildura uses locally grown produce – from salt bush to citrus – to flavour their gin.

Get to know two of our local makers and creators and prepare to whet your whistle when visiting our region.

Steve and Cherie, Fossey’s Distillery.

Meet Cherie and Steve, a father and daughter duo taking the spirit world by storm. Born and bred in Mildura, Steve was never shy of trying something new. When the city’s iconic The Setts building came up for sale, he had the vision to turn it into something the city would be proud to call their own and draw visitors to experience Mildura. That something is Fossey’s Distillery (aka Fossey’s).

After spending years tinkering with winemaking at home, Steve turned his attention to distilling spirits, in particular whisky. While researching this new craft, he discovered the turnaround time to make gin was quicker, as gin could be distilled in one day compared to a minimum of two years required to distil, rest, sit and mature whisky. A decision that has resulted in an offering of up to 20 flavoured gins, including barrel-aged varieties.

While boutique gin brands have flooded the market in recent years, Fossey’s has made its mark in the industry by using grape instead of grain as the base, pairing with native flavours and botanicals from the region. From saltbush picked from the nearby Murray River to locally grown chilli and kaffir lime leaves supplied by the community, crafting Fossey’s gins has turned into a whole community affair.

Fossey's intended to open one night a week, as a place for locals and visitors to treat themselves to a cocktail or tasting board in a relaxed environment, but due to the popularity for their offering, Fossey’s now opens four nights a week. Visitors are encouraged to watch the distilling process in action each Thursday.

As with any business, Fossey’s has faced challenges in its five years in business, with its geographical location, over 500km north of Melbourne, making it difficult to initially connect with suppliers. However, the sense of pride for the local community and region outweighs this challenge by being able to showcase the flavours of Mildura and help draw visitors to experience Mildura.

One visit to Fossey’s Distillery and you’ll walk away with more than just the experience of tasting the local flavours but an understanding of how proud the whole team are to share what’s so special about their region.

Get a taste of Fossey’s delivered straight to your door. Shop online for the best spirits, cider and beers in the Murray.

If you’re planning a visit, check out this Mildura itinerary before you go.

Les and Julianne, Flyfaire Wines.

Meet Les and Julianne from Flyfaire Wines.

When Les bought the piece of land next to his father’s Woomargama property in 1984, he didn’t expect seven years later he would be diversifying his award-winning merino wool business to plant chardonnay, riesling, or merlot vines.

The vision to transform a sheep farm into a winery came from the need to find another sustainable business for the land and viticulture provided a solution that only required a small portion of the land. This decision saw Les attend Charles Sturt University to complete a degree in viticulture, Flyfaire Wines was born.

Perfectly positioned bordering Woomargama National Park, the cool climate location with rich clay and granite soil led Les and Julianne on their winemaking journey adding traditional European varieties, such a carmenere to the list.

This boutique, single block winery focuses on showcasing the characteristics of each variety, so you won’t find any mixed or blended wines at their cellar door. Staying true to sustainable practices, the wine is grown, harvested, bottled and labelled all onsite.

While Les and Julianne are passionate about producing quality small batch wines, they wanted to ensure they could share their wines with others and opened their cellar door to the public in late 2021. Beyond a traditional cellar door experience, Flyfaire offer an introduction to wine tasting session, wine and cheese pairing, wine and dine experience and sensory wine experience.

From producing fine merino wool to single varietal wines, Les and Julianne are always looking for new ways to put sustainability at the forefront of their production. This off-grid winery recently discovered wine marc – the left-over waste from pressing grapes – could be turned into a flour high in antioxidants. This discovery now sees this leftover matter once fed to cattle used to make sourdough bread at a local Albury artisan bakery.

Have you tried a Flyfaire Wine yet? Shop online for the best wines in the Murray.

Discover more of our local makers and creators and get a taste of our region delivered straight to your door.