Narkoojee, meaning “place of flowers”, was a dairy farm owned and operated by Edna and Athelstan Friend, since the early 1940s. Their son Harry planted the first experimental vines back in 1980. Narkoojee had very humble beginnings with the cellar door operating out of a small weatherboard bungalow at the back of Harry and Val Friend’s house. The grapes were taken to the old butter factory in Glengarry, where the wines were made. Today Narkoojee has a five star state-of-the-art winery that was officially opened on 10 December 2004 by the Hon. John Brumby MP, Treasurer of Victoria and Minister for State and Regional Development.
Narkoojee is situated at Glengarry, 15 km north of Traralgon in Central Gippsland, Victoria, Melways Reference 628 D7. It is nestled in the foothills of the Great Dividing Range with magnificent views of the Strzelecki Ranges. The winery is approximately 2 1/2 hours drive from Melbourne's CBD.
The glories of Gippsland have long delighted all who explore the region. For wine lovers and gourmet travellers, a hidden treasure awaits as they discover the intensely flavoured reds and the rich and complex chardonnays produced by Narkoojee at Glengarry in Gippsland. The distinctive appeal of Narkoojee is drawing acclaim from many top restaurants, wine shows, wine writers and wine consumers across Australia, and overseas.
The vineyard has been established on deep alluvial soils with mixtures of clay, silt, sand and ironstone gravels. The combination of location, soils and climate creates the ideal environment for the production of classic cool climate wines. The vines are trained to a lyre trellis system, which increases sunlight penetration and air circulation, producing fruit of optimum quality.
The first wine made by Harry in 1985 was a Gold Medal winner at the Lilydale Wine Show. Since then, Narkoojee has gone on to win many medals and trophies, including the Michelin Trophy for best wine in show, Le Concours Des Vins Du Victoria for the Reserve Chardonnay.
Harry Friend was raised on the dairy farm, which is now home to the Narkoojee vineyard and winery. He graduated from Melbourne University with a Bachelor of Engineering and spent most of his career as a Civil Engineer. He retired from his position as Lecturer in Civil Engineering at Victoria University in 1994 to manage the Narkoojee winery and make wine on a full time basis. Axel Friend graduated with an Associate Degree in Applied Science (Winegrowing) from Sturt University in Wagga Wagga, in 1999. Since the age of 15, Axel has helped in the vineyard alongside his father, Harry. His knowledge of plant physiology and wine chemistry led to his role as vineyard manager and co-winemaker. Axel has travelled extensively throughout Europe and worked with Camp America in North Carolina.
The original Narkoojee label of the 1980s featured a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo designed and painted especially for Narkoojee by renowned textile artist Annemieke Merri Oam. The Cockatoo is prevalent in the region. The label has since evolved to appeal to the trends of today's market. The label has evolved into a more traditional and elegant style, bringing with it only a subtle reminder of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo associated with the Narkoojee label of earlier years.