We often get asked about the name Tahbilk and its origins. It is an unusual name but derives from our Indigenous origins after the location of the property in tabilk-tabilk country. In the language of the Taungurung people this means ‘place of many waterholes’.
The placement of the winery on the tabilk site makes a lot of sense. The area is surrounded by a large amount of water on both sides; the Goulburn River to the west and throughout the middle of the property meander the billabong ana-branches.
It is a place of abundance and perfectly described by the first people.
The winery originally functioned for many years under the name Tabilk Vineyard. It wasn’t until the arrival of Francois Coueslant, a Frenchman, to the winery in 1877 when the name was changed to Chateau Tahbilk. Unfortunately there really is no evidence of why the name was changed, although there are many theories around.
Sometimes we think it might be to call homage to the wineries European influence, sometimes we think it was to mimic the success of Chateau Yering in the Yarra Valley at the time. We have no idea why the ‘h’ was added and can only assume it was to soften or match the Chateau. Notwithstanding the mystery of the name, the vineyard continued to attract the attention of visitors to the area.
The name Chateau Tahbilk wasn’t questioned until Alister Purbrick arrived on the scene, the 4th generation to take ownership of the property. In 1990 he began to feel increasingly frustrated at seeing the wines presented in the French section of the bottle shop, rather than in the Australian category. This frustration culminated in the millennium year in the year 2000 consideration was given to removing ‘Chateau’ from the name.
Tahbilk is a proud Australian winery, standing on its own two feet. We no longer needed the leg up from the European linkage so just like that, the name returned to Tahbilk; albeit still with the ‘h’ in it.
We are very happily now just known as Tahbilk Winery. A name which we think captures our beginning and our long history. With the plan to keep it that way for many generations to come!