Finding Value in Victoria, Australia

This month the #WorldWineTravel writers head to Victoria, a beautiful part of the country located in the southeast. I was lucky enough to spend some time traveling through this beautiful area many years ago when I visited the country and just loved it. The area has mountains, parks, amazing beaches, Melbourne – a fascinating city, and of course, wineries. My photos of the Great Ocean Road are not digitized but I will add a few just because they are so exquisite. What I didn’t know at the time was that a part of my family that I do not know owns a winery in the Yarra Valley which I am writing about now called TarraWarra.

Photo Credit @VisitVictoria

The Yarra Valley was the first settled in Victoria back in 1838. It is considered one of the premier areas to make Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, thanks to its cool climate.

Photo Credit @TarraWarra

TarraWarra was founded in 1979 when Marc Besen and Eva his wife bought land. Besen is my grandmother’s family name. In what I have read Marc Besen moved to Australia in the 1940s/1950s and worked in retail from Romania where he was born. My grandmother moved from Poland to Canada in the 1920s with her family when Jews were leaving in droves either from pogroms or other anti-semitic actions in that part of Eastern Europe. She came from an area that is on the border between Poland and Ukraine. My grandfather was born in Lviv. Apparently Marc Besen was born in Chernovitz which at the time was Romania but then annexed to the Soviet Union and then after the war became Ukrainian. I am not sure how they are related in the terms of their parents but I know my great great grandfather was a Rabbi in Poland and one of ten so I imagine parts of the family went elsewhere.

Photo Credit @TarraWarra

Apart from all this family history, I discovered that the Besen family planted Barbera and Nebbiolo at Tarrawarra which seemed interesting. It seems the grapes thrive in this cool climate area which is not a surprise when one thinks of their Piedmontese origin.

I also discovered their head winemaker was female, Clare Halloran a specialist in Pinot Noir, along with other varietals. While I haven’t yet tasted the wine, I enjoyed learning about this place and it’s owners.

World Wine Travel Writers Explore Red Wines from Victoria
Make sure you take a few minutes to link over to other posts from our World Wine Travel writers, then join our conversation on Twitter. We chat for an hour on Saturday, April 23 from 11-12:00pm ET at the hashtag #WorldWineTravel.


  1. How fascinating to find a family connection! It is a reminder of how connected we all are on this planet. This seems even more important when you mention the family’s connections to Ukraine. We are all much more connected than we think in this giant family of humanity.

  2. What a wonderful surprise. Have you reached out to the owners? I am anxious to hear more about this story and to read your tasting notes when you do get to try the wine.

  3. What a story! Very unexpectedly, I just met someone who, when telling them about my red wine from Victoria for this month’s #WorldWineTravel, they told me they visited Tarra Warra. An even smaller world!

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