Great Western is a town in the east of the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia. The town is located on the Western Highway, in the Northern Grampians Shire Local Government Area, 225 kilometres north west of the state capital, Melbourne. The town has an estimated population of 250.
The first European settlers in the Great Western area were sheep graziers in the 1840s and closer settlement began with the discovery of gold during the Victorian gold rush. The first vineyards in the Great Western area were established by two Frenchmen who met at the gold diggings at Daylesford. Following their example, Joseph Best and his brother Henry established vineyards in 1865. Following Joseph’s death in 1888, the property was purchased by Hans Irvine. Irvine imported staff from France and dedicated himself to establishing a sparkling wine of comparable quality of French champagne. In 1918, Irvine sold the winery to his friend and Australian wine pioneer, Benno Seppelt.
Today, Great Western is still producing quality sparkling wines including Seppelt Salinger at the Seppelt winery, now owned by the Foster’s Group. The Seppelt cellars include over 3 kilometres of labyrinthine tunnels (“drives”) originally constructed by miners searching for gold and are now used to allow the sparkling wine to rest and develop. The other major vineyard in the area is the Concongella vineyard, operated by Best’s Wines, producing a wide variety of wine types. Table shiraz, including some from pre-phylloxera root stocks, is also produced by wineries in the area. The development of a water recycling program transferring waste water from nearby Ararat to wineries at Great Western has allowed recent expansion of the wine industry in the area.
Other events in Great Western include a picnic race meeting and a rodeo, both held annually.