By James Atkinson

Rutherglen, Victoria winery Campbells recently revealed the history and craftsmanship behind the region's fortified wines to the next generation of Australia's First Families of Wine (AFFW).

On a recent tour of the Victorian families' wineries, the 'next genners' took part in a fortified blending workshop (pictured) facilitated by winery operations manager, Tim Gniel.

Gniel explained how the ancient solera system enables Campbells to blend and mature its Muscats and Topaques over a period of years to maintain uniformity of quality, age and character.

The next genners were then given classification samples of Rutherglen, Classic, Grand and Rare Muscats, before being asked to recreate the Classic Rutherglen Muscat by blending several different samples of fortified wine.

Campbells, which celebrated 140 years of family winemaking in 2010, has its roots firmly in fortified wines, but has since progressed with many other styles and varieties.

But marketing manager Susie Campbell told TheShout that in demonstrating her family's rich heritage in fortifieds, she hoped to give her next generation AFFW counterparts a truly unique visit to the Rutherglen winery.

"I think they were all wowed by the experience," she said.

Colin, Prue and Susie Campbell

Despite fortified wines having fallen somewhat out of fashion, Campbell said its sales are growing year-on-year, on the back of its efforts to actively market them in association with dining and special occasions.

"In our own small way we've seen a growth in the category, because we package them in a more elegant bottle and we're suggesting that people enjoy them with dessert or at dinner parties," she said.

The jewels in Campbells' crown are the renowned Merchant Prince Rare Rutherglen Muscat and Isabella rare Rutherglen Topaque.

The Merchant Prince was the first wine in Australia's history to be awarded a perfect score of 100/100 by wine columnist Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator magazine.

The Shout Team

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