Drinking Victoria: Eliza Brown

Published on 9 February 2021

Photo: All Saints CEO Eliza Brown

Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

Part of the fourth generation of the esteemed Brown family, Eliza Brown grew up around the rhythms of winemaking. After a career in advertising, she returned to the family business and more than 18 years later is CEO of not only All Saints Estate, one of Rutherglen’s most prized wineries, but also nearby St Leonard’s Vineyard and Mount Ophir Estate, set to release its first vintage this year. Along with her siblings, she has recently added Thousand Pound Wine Bar and Store to the family portfolio as well as Luxe Auto, which offers winery tours of the Rutherglen region in a vintage Rolls Royce convertible. Eliza is also a director of the broader Brown Family Wine Group, which encompasses Brown Brothers Vineyard and Innocent Bystander in Victoria and Devils Corner and Tamar Ridge in Tasmania, along with other exciting brands. Something tells us she’s not finished yet.

The last three delicious things I drank were a Hip Sip Muscat and tonic cocktail in the pool. Hip Sip is made by our very own St Leonards Vineyard, because we wanted to give muscat a bit of an edge. We packaged it in a flat bottle so you can put it in your pocket of your jacket and used a tattoo artist to design the label. It’s super cool and delicious when you use it as a base for a cocktail. I was also lucky enough to have a 2007 Taittinger Comtes, a decadent present from a close friend. It has all the elements of a quality Champagne, with vitality and sophistication. Finally, there was a Jones Winery 2019 fiano from Rutherglen. Mandy Jones is a gun winemaker and crafts this grape into a beautiful expression of the variety.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Melbourne is The Espy becauseit’s a mixture of grunge and glamour, everybody is welcome and the wine and cocktail lists are extensive. In short: it’s a Melbourne institution.

When someone hands me a wine list in a restaurant, I count how many Victorian wines are on the list, and if there aren’t enough, I ask why.

The Victorian spirit I’m digging the most right now is anything from Rutherglen. The region is mixing it up; despite its reputation for fortified wines, it’s now showing what the category can do with cocktails and mixers.

There’s no better value on a wine list or in a bottle-shop in this state than I’m biased, but the Brown Brothers NV Sparkling Brut absolutely over-delivers. The blend of pinot noir and chardonnay has a creaminess that finishes with refreshing acidity, which leaves the palate wanting more.

My favourite place to buy booze is Prince Wine Store. It has an extremely helpful team with a fabulous selection of local wines.

I’d love to see us planting/brewing/distilling more of everything in Victoria because we have such a diverse climate and topography, we have the ability to grow and make a breadth of drinks in a very small state. To be able to go from vineyards growing cool-climate chardonnay and then, in an hour’s drive, others making full-bodied shiraz, we live in an incredible state. The more people who join our diverse drinks industry in Victoria, the more beautiful stories we have to tell.

My guilty pleasure in the drinks cabinet is All Saints Estate 100-year-old Museum Muscat. It’s especially good after a big day of work at the winery.

The best or most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been the integration of the wine and spirits industry. I don’t think we see ourselves as so much separated but instead as collaborative colleagues building Victoria’s reputation for quality drinks across a diverse field.

For me, the most inspiring people in the Victorian drinks world are the Four Pillars team. I think there are a lot of people out there who are modestly producing some wonderful drinks, but I really admire the guys for what they’ve done, building an incredible brand while at the same time creating a brilliant team and a loyal community.

You can see what’s drinking well in Rutherglen by following @allsaintsestate, @stleonardswine and @thousand_pound on Instagram. See what’s keeping Eliza busy over at @moderncountry.

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