Lake George Winery – the new old kid in town

Sarah McDougall with Lake George Winery’s award winning 2018

We were driving back to Canberra from Sydney, and decided to stop in to see how Sarah McDougall was going with her new venture – Lake George Winery.

You could be forgiven for thinking you were in the south of France, but actually, Lake George Winery is a short drive out of Canberra towards Sydney.

Lake George Winery is the first Canberra region winery you pass as you drive in from Sydney. Situated next door to Lerida Estate, it has a beautiful view over Lake George and is fast turning the Lake George corridor into a must visit winery destination.

Sarah, a mother of five and owner of Summerhill Road Vineyard, purchased Lake George Winery with her husband last year. And it was a bit unexpected.

“My husband, Anthony, took me out for a romantic dinner,” she said. “Here, at this winery. And over dinner, he mentioned that it was for sale and we should buy it.”

Buy it they did, and in less than a year Sarah is already stamping her own mark on the winery. She has big dreams and, with a strong marketing background and passion for Canberra wines, I have every confidence she will get there. In her words, “this is the big game – bring it on!”

But first – the wines. Lake George Winery makes some pretty damn fine wines, including several that are perfect for this dry Canberra heat wave. Case in point is their 2018 rosé.

Straight to the pool room! But this is a wine for drinking now, for enjoying over a lingering picnic with friends or at an Australia Day BBQ, rather than putting on a mantlepiece. At least, that’s what I plan to do.

Lake George Winery’s sparkling wine is also lovely. I am fussy about Australian made sparkling wine, as I am susceptible to migraine headaches from preservatives. This one passed the test, and at around $30, was much nicer and zestier than posher French varieties. If you are wondering about the pink bottle, this carries a limited edition Design Canberra label – Sarah only prepared around 20 cases.

But perhaps I shouldn’t have been too concerned about the wines. Sarah is well known for her commitment to organic principles at her Summerhill Road winery, and she is on track to convert Lake George Winery to being fully organic as well.

Sarah is also proud that she is keeping an important part of Canberra’s wine history alive. The winery – only owned by four families – is the oldest winery in the Canberra region with plantings that go back to 1972. She let me have a peek at the cellar, where there are some vintage wines waiting to be opened and enjoyed one day.

Sarah in the cellar

You can drop in for a tasting, or if you want to linger longer you can stay for lunch.

The restaurant at Lake George Winery

The restaurant is designed to accommodate large functions such as weddings.

If you were wondering, those hanging glass bulbs contain candles and they can be lit at night for a special romantic event.

Or you could just sit and ponder the world for a bit, as we did.

If you want to linger even longer than a long lunch, Vivien is a great hostess.

Vivien is a silver air streamer that is available for rental. Fully self-contained, it has a fantastic view both of the vines and out to Lake George. Maybe you might even see some of the UFOs that are rumoured to buzz around Lake George.

“I’m a true believer,” said Sarah. “But I haven’t seen anything yet.”

Vivien is all vintage glamour.

And consistent with Sarah’s organic commitment, Vivian is cleaned with all natural products.

In the future, Sarah’s dreams include glamping and big name touring acts.

My advice: stop by on a drive to Sydney or Goulburn and visit before the secret is out about this place. We’re glad that we did.

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