High Country maker's trail

Meet the makers and creators who call Victoria's High Country home. Pop in and see these colourful locals in their element and check out their favourite things to do around the region.

The makers and creators

  • Ben Kraus, founder and brewer, Bridge Road Brewers
  • Jodie and Steven Goldsworthy, founders and apiarists, Beechworth Honey
  • Matt Fowles, vigneron, farmer and hunter, Fowles Wine
  • Ceridwen Brown, owner-operator, Milawa Cheese Company
  • Sam Lowe and Chantal Daniels, founders and whisky distillers, Kinglake Distillery
  • Jamie Chesher, head brewer and distiller, Nagambie Brewery and Distillery

The Bridge Road story

At the start of the millennium, Ben Kraus jetted off to Europe to learn the art of winemaking. Instead, he fell in love with his wife Maria, and a traditional microbrewery in Innsbruck. Soon after, Ben returned home a brewer, determined to leave his mark on the Australian beer scene. By 2006, the couple opened the doors of Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, which now employs 40 staff who all share a passion for good brews.

Ben and Maria's favourite things

When the couple aren’t busy quenching the thirst of tourists and locals alike, they love getting outdoors and exploring their area and dining at local restaurants. 

  • Mountain biking on local trails or walking and jogging along the cascades at Beechworth Gorge.
"I'm incredibly proud to have established and to be continually developing something that I feel enriches my hometown and our local community."

- Ben Kraus, Bridge Road Brewers

The Beechworth Honey story

Jodie Goldsworthy is a fourth-generation apiarist, stemming from a long line of beekeepers who have cared for honeybees in the Beechworth area since the 1880s. In 1992, Jodie and her husband Steven pooled their money and bought 500 hives of their own, which birthed the Beechworth Honey brand that is known and loved across Victoria today. The environmentally responsible business is working to keep Australian honey products pure and local hives pollinated for years to come. 

Steven and Jodie’s favourite things 

The High Country is where Jodie and Steven live, work and play, and there’s plenty of fun to be had in this picturesque locale. The couple love to eat local, support local and explore local.

“We realised about 20 years ago that we aren’t just about honey, we’re more about the bees. Even though Australian honey is the best in the world, the humble honeybee is fundamental to our everyday lives. Honey is just a by-product.”

- Jodie Goldsworthy, Beechworth Honey

The Fowles Wine story

Matt Fowles is a former lawyer who swapped the vitriol of the courtroom for the vineyard after he and his wife Luise made the move from the big smoke to Avenel back in 2006 to open Fowles Wine. Living on the land sparked the desire to learn more about the food we consume and where it comes from. This curiosity saw Matt adopt sustainable farming practices across the vineyard and to hunt for and grow his own food. This has been the inspiration behind the business’s cool-climate wine labels, like ‘Ladies who Shoot their Lunch’, ‘Are you Game?’ and ‘Farm to Table’.

Matt’s favourite things

Matt loves the rugged beauty of his home in the Strathbogie Ranges and is a regular at a number of other vineyards, local food haunts, and of course, an avid explorer of wide open spaces. 

“This life as a vigneron, farmer and hunter is embedded in the Fowles winemaking philosophy; to produce regional wines that reflect their Strathbogie provenance and craft texturally fine cool-climate wines that pair with the flavours of wild produce and complement the textures of farm-raised meats.”

- Matt Fowles, Fowles Wine

The Milawa Cheese Makers story

Ceridwen Brown is a second-generation owner-operator of the Milawa Cheese Company, which was established by her parents David and Anne Brown in 1988, after discovering Australia didn’t have a handmade artisan cheese equivalent to the European market. She grew up watching her parents make and sell cheese, so the business is part of her lifeblood, which she now wants to share with her son, Cooper.

Ceridwen’s favourite things

As a High Country local, Ceridwen knows the ins and outs of the alpine region and has a few favourite places she likes to visit in her downtime. 

  • Enjoy a long, boozy lunch at Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard, or have a picnic in one of the many parks in the area in summer.
  • In autumn, drive to Bright to see the tree-lined streets bursting with autumnal hues, while in the spring, a drive between Oxley (near Wangaratta) to Milawa showcases fields of blooming flowers. 
  • Winter evenings spent by the roaring fire at Mountain View Hotel in Whitfield. 
“Cheese making is both science and craft. We take inspiration from Europe and bring Australian innovation to our own recipes, which are crafted by hand right here in the High Country.”

- Ceridwen Brown, Milawa Cheese Company

The Kinglake Distillery story

Sam Lowe and Chantal Daniels wanted to create a whisky, and a business, that represents the strange and wild place they live – Kinglake. Imbued with nature, they’ve created a brand influenced by the natural world at every point in their production process. This includes using water from a mountain spring on their property, leaving their ferments open to natural pollens and yeasts and working in a completely off-grid location. Notably, Kinglake Distillery has also donated a third of their property to be reforested with Indigenous vegetation as part of their Carbon Neutral certification. 

Sam and Chantal’s favourite things

Kinglake and its surrounds are a green hamlet with plenty of activities the whole family can enjoy. 

“I'm a third generation Kinglaker and my goal is to make a spirit that truly takes on the character of my home. Single malt is perfect for this. Kinglake Distillery aims to do one thing and do it well. We only make single malt, but we make it from scratch, using the best ingredients we can source.”

- Chantal Daniels, Kinglake Distillery

The Nagambie Brewery and Distillery story

Helmed by head brewer and distiller Jamie Chesher, Nagambie Brewery and Distillery has thrived, providing visitors with fresh, honest, sessionable beers. Jamie started out as a bar tender, first in pubs and clubs and later in high-end cocktail bars. He came to Nagambie Brewery and Distillery after working as a brand ambassador for an international spirits company, and now uses his consumer knowledge to make beers that people can’t get enough of. 

Jamie’s favourite things

Drawn to Nagambie by its wide-open spaces and eye-catching sunsets, Jamie’s ideal foray into the region includes good food, plenty of drinks and some time spent outdoors.

“Working at Nagambie Brewery and Distillery is my dream job. I was very fortunate to have been given the role, and I will most likely stick with until I retire. Every day dishes up something new and I am constantly learning, creating and challenging myself. I couldn't imagine doing anything else now.”

- Jamie Chesher, Nagambie Brewery and Distillery