November 22, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo
Despite damage to its unique Gallery of Aboriginal Art, the Mitchelton winery and hotel complex in flooded regional Victoria is largely back and open for business, including its business event spaces.
The Goulburn River runs through the historic property at Nagambie, 90 minutes north of Melbourne and when it flooded last month, it forced a two-week closure. The gallery, the cellar and its famous 54m tower remain closed.
The site dates back to 1836 when explorer Major Thomas Mitchell crossed the river here and a town named Mitchellstown was intended to be built. That never eventuated but the site with good soil and ready access to water was chosen in the 1960s as an ideal place to grow premium grapes and Australia’s largest cellar complex was built.
Since then Mitchelton, as the place name was shortened to, has produced award-winning Shiraz and Riesling. The property was purchased in 2011 by Jerry Ryan to add to his Melbourne hospitality group. Ryan is also well-known as the name behind Jayco caravans and his sponsorship of Australian Tour de France cycling teams.
A 58-room hotel, restaurant, day spa and a range of indoor and outdoor event spaces were developed at the site in 2018 and while it is popular for weddings, often staging three each weekend, it also hosts corporate meetings and events every week.
Its Montage room suits 150in theatre or 300 cocktail and the property can also cater to smaller residential conferences for as few as five in a private boardroom.
Activities available onsite include wine tasting, a cellar tour, meeting the winemaker and, when it is not in flood, a river cruise. But arguably its most unique feature is a legacy of owner Ryan’s passion for caravans and RVs – he has installed a group of seven iconic American Airstream caravans adjacent to the hotel.
Many of its meetings are sourced from the local region around Shepparton and Seymour but Melbourne meeting planners also make use of Mitchelton.
Its Art Gallery which houses Indigenous art selling for between $500 and $1 million per piece, is also used for corporate events, but it is not expected to reopen until next year.
Mitchelton has also staged major events at the winery, including “A Day on the Green” starting in 2001 with Dame Kiri Te Kanawa followed since by some of the biggest names in popular music.