Valley comes together around wine

Fred Pizzini

The King Valley follows the path of the King River, from its upper reaches in the Alpine National Park, due north to Wangaratta. But it may be wine as much as water that flows through this region.

Fertile soil and gentle slopes, river flats and crisp, cool climates have allowed grape growers to establish a rich tradition in this region. The regional wine association, Wines of the King Valley, honours that tradition and continues to innovate for its future.

Formed of grape-growing and wine-producing members, Wines of the King Valley undertakes key projects around marketing, tourism, education and lobbying, in order to achieve better outcomes for members and the wider community.

Wines of the King Valley's bi-annual wine and food festivals, Weekend Fit for a King and La Dolce Vita, each draw 2900-3600 people to the valley, and regularly book out available accommodation providers, camp sites and restaurants, both in the valley and surrounding region.

"Their impact has been valued and supported by financial investment from Rural City of Wangaratta," said Alison Lloyd, executive and marketing officer of Wines of the King Valley.

"Ticket prices paid at the Weekend Fit for a King and La Dolce Vita festivals support the ongoing work of the association, as well as providing access to a weekend full of wine, food and entertainment."

In addition to events in region, Wines of the King Valley members regularly collaborate to develop increased awareness of the region and new markets in other cities.

Ms Lloyd said that 2016 has already seen a number of very successful events at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and High Country Harvest.

In August, Wines of the King Valley will collaborate with Winemakers of Rutherglen to showcase the Tastes of Two Regions in Canberra, and King Valley Prosecco Road is going on the road to Sydney in November.

"Each time we visit a new city, we sing the praises of this beautiful region and encourage others to discover it for themselves," Ms Lloyd said.

Behind the scenes, Wines of the King Valley is currently working to influence the outcome of the government's wine taxation proposal, to obtain investment from government and to mitigate the effect of planned burns on tourism and grape sales.

Current research projects include soil scanning and analysis, and a longitudinal experiment in assessing the best possible conditions for growing the sangiovese varietal. The association is working to create expertise and excellence in this variety, to pioneer Sangiovese in the same way they did ten years ago with Prosecco.

Wines of the King Valley members serve on a number of state advisory boards, such as the ministerial advisory committee for wine, the ministerial advisory committee for tourism, the Wine Victoria constitutional reform committee and the Wine Victoria young leaders program.

"In these roles, members ensure the voice of King Valley and North East Victoria is heard and respected," Ms Lloyd said.

"The secret to Wines of the King Valley's success appears to be a simple one - hard work, vision, and a commitment to working together - not that dissimilar from the efforts that got this wine region going in the first place."