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Your 2022 Guide to the Bendigo Wine Region VIC

Posted by David Laity on
Your 2022 Guide to the Bendigo Wine Region VIC

A Snapshot of the Bendigo Wine Region

This region is located on the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung and the Taungurung Peoples of the Kulin Nation. They are the traditional custodians of the land.

Bendigo is a bustling regional hub of central Victoria with truckloads of gold rush architecture, vintage cinemas, a fascinating Chinese history, a busy cultural calendar, a very happening restaurant scene and lots of parks and gardens.

The surrounding wine region is easily accessible, also full of history and character, and certainly growing in reputation with regards to s range of award winning wines.

There is an interesting parallel with the development of both the Californian and New Zealand wine industry (with the town Bendigo there named after miners moved from on from the gold rush in Australia). Were it not for phlloxera - an insect that spreads disease and absolutely devastated the ancient vines of Europe - Bendigo could well have continued its economic boom with wine.

Yarra Valley wine region

photo by Jenele Lugge - licenced under shutterstock

Take Me There!

How to get to Bendigo Wineries

It's a smidge over 150km from Melbourne CBD, but around 90 minutes drive from Tullamarine, Melbourne's main airport. That's about the same time it will take you in a VLine train from Southern Cross Station.

Once you get there, if you want to get around the Greater Bendigo region you might be best off renting yourself a car, or organising taxis or Ubers if you're planning on letting your hair down. There are trams throughout the city centre.

photo by MemoryCatcher- licenced under creative commons

What are Bendigo wines like?

An overview of Bendigo wines

Most cellar doors in the Bendigo wine region are on the smaller side and the winemakers are often family members.

You'll find Shiraz, Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir in abundance around Bendigo and Heathcote, but it's certainly best known as red wine country. Like many other wine regions, both in Australia and internationally, some traditional varieties, Marsanne and Sangiovese for example, are making a strong comeback in recent years.

The James Halliday wine companion praises Bendigo as follows: "The rejuvenation of the vinicultural scene is fairly recent compared to other Australian areas, but it’s a region on the rise with highly acclaimed wines to its name."

Terroir - Soil and Climate

How do the soil and climate affect wine flavour in Bendigo?

The country around the wine region has volcanic or gravel deep soils over clay. It's a classic warm Mediterranean climate of central Victoria - hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Like we've mentioned elsewhere, this microclimate has a large diurnal range which can lead to more even ripening for grapes - thus, better wine quality!

After much of the soil in this part of Victoria was mined for precious metals, those in the know realised that it would be very suitable for viticulture. There's a lot of loam, it's generally not too chalky, and though the soil isn't so high in nutrients, this, along with minimal irrigation, helps the fruit develop deep and complex flavours.

Something out of the box?

Unusual wine varieties in Bendigo

If you're after a fine red wine other than shiraz and cabernet sauvignon, you've come to the right place.

Ancellotta

How about the Italian variety Ancellotta? It brings some vibrant colour and tannin when blended with Zinfandel. Water Wheel winery, listed below, makes a great example of this wine. You can find this varietal in lambrusco and many other blends, but on its own it can have a lovely plummy, berry-like richness.

Silver Spoon winery is a 4.5 star off-grid Halliday vineyard with a diverse range of grape varietals - Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Viognier have all been grown as single vineyard varietals.

Chalmers Wines particularly embrace experimental techniques and varieties. They supply grapes to more than forty winemakers, but also have a dozen unusual examples of wine that they have grown on the red Cambrian soils of their Heathcote location. Falanghina, Pecorino, Appassimento, Col Fondo and Rosato are all part of the range that Chalmers have put out in recent times.

Aglianico

Aglianico is a southern Italian wine known for high levels of acid, high tannins and thus, good cellaring potential. It can range from a savoury to a ripe dried fruit palate. Pop it in some oak and tame the tannins and you might drink it younger. However, make it traditionally and stick it in a cellar for ten years and you might find yourself with something extraordinary.

These kinds of grapes that prefer very warm, dry conditions also represent a kind of future proofing for Australia with wineries needing to protect themselves against climate change and increasing periods of drought.

The stars of the show

The top varietals of the Bendigo wine region

Shiraz is what brings fame and fortune to the local vineyards around Bendigo. 41% of the total grape output comes from Shiraz; Cab Sav, on the other hand, accounts for 18%. There are some lovely deep red soils around the area producing high quality fruit. It's a blast furnace in summer and pretty chilly come wintertime, but the nearby mountain ranges funnel cooling winds through the vineyards.

The region is quite large (roughly 600 hectares), so elevation varies across the different wineries - the higher elevations tending to cooler nights and a more restrained flavour profile. It's not an area known for high yields, perhaps that has an influence on the high quality.

Shiraz

I love me a good shiraz, and some of my favourites have come from around here. This type of Mediterranean region shiraz can age very well and has been aptly described as "vibrant and lifted, and [it] is quite distinguishable from other shiraz-producing regions." You're spoiled for choice if you like red wines in the Bendigo region - cabernet franc, petit verdot, merlot are all produced by some of the Bendigo wineries listed below., White wine drinkers needn't feel neglected though - there are brilliant examples of locally produced chardonnay

photo by Andrew Hagen - licenced under shutterstock

Stellar Cellars

Some of the best wineries in the Bendigo wine region

  • Ellis Wines- over 123 acres planted north to south for the winds to bring down the night-time temperatures and getting some very positive attention recently! 5 Star Winery, Top 10 Dark Horse Winery and Best of the Best in the 2021 Halliday Wine Companion. The cellar door is located in Bendigo itself.
  • St. Anne's Bendigo - Originally based in Myrniong, and now with vineyards in Echuca, Moama, and Lorne, St. Annes has been a major winemaking force in Victoria. As of August 2021 they have opened a cellar door in Bendigo. St Annes Bendigo grow vines using organic cultivation practices and have received good reviews for one of the area's newest cellar doors.
  • Sandhurst Ridge Cellar Door - Doesn't serve food, but enjoy a taste with one of the winemakers on a polished jarrah bench
  • Balgownie Estate Winery - Balgownie estate has one of the best cellar doors in Victoria (winner of Gourmet Traveller's best food cellar doors) and maker of many award winning wines. The first winemaker, Stuart Anderson - inspired by Lake's Folly - Australia's first boutique vineyard - planted cabernet sauvignon and shiraz here in 1969.
  • The Shiraz Republic - food, drink, live events, great reviews and about 14,000 hand-pruned vines
  • Water Wheel Winery - low yield, estate grown grapes. They make a nice cabernet sauvignon along with lesser known varieties - Petit Verdot, Malbec or Primitivo
  • Blackjack Winery - winner of a Star Cellar Door award from Australia’s Gourmet Traveller Magazine in 2020
  • Sutton Grange -They just won the 2021 Sydney Royal Wine Show for their 2018 Sutton Grange Estate Syrah. It's on the southern edge of the region, has a cellar door and offers corporate events. It was previously a thoroughbred racing facility.

Need a nap after all the fun?

Best accomodation options

If you're looking for a place to stay, the Bendigo Wine Region offers a variety of options. From camping and caravanning to bed and breakfasts, boutique hotels, and larger chain hotels, there's something to suit everyone's needs

Here are just a few of the available options:

The Bendigo Caravan Park - located on the outskirts of Bendigo, this park offers powered and unpowered sites as well as cabins

Bendigo Cottages - located in the heart of Bendigo, this bed and breakfast offers a cottage garden and cooked breakfasts

The All Seasons Hotel - located close to the centre of Bendigo, this hotel offers free Wi-Fi and an on site restaurant

Hotel Shamrock Bendigo - located within walking distance of the Bendigo city centre, this grand old hotel (1854) offers two onsite restaurants and four bars.

At Balgownie Estate in Maiden Gully it’s all about the glamping. Cosy down in a bell or safari tent overlooking the property. There is also homestead accommodation, an onsite restaurant, and a cellar door with a large deck.

Balgownie Estate Glamping

Sandhurst Ridge have two luxury cottages overlooking the vineyard with a two night minimum stay.

If camping's your thing, here's an option nice and close to Bendigo

Whipstick Forest Retreat - lots to do around this area! Guests really rate the owner highly.

Closer to Heathcote is Heathcote Winery & Olive Grove Camping. A beautiful site amongst the grapes and gum trees with an artist's collective making olive oil on the premises.

 

Why visit Bendigo in 2022?

The lowdown

Bendigo city is one of Australia's iconic locations absolutely bursting with historic attractions, many cultural events, and it's Australia’s first UNESCO City of Gastronomy. It's a great place to take a trip to a lake, dine at an outdoor table surrounded by ornate architecture, enjoy a taste of award winning cabernet sauvignon from the Bendigo wine region and then stay in a historic hotel. It's a walkable city

As to the recent reviews of Bendigo wine? Black Estate Vineyard and Black Wallaby Wines from the Bendigo wine region have picked up awards at this year’s Victoria Wine Show.

Something to see while you're there?

I like Bendigo. It's a cool city with lots of character, but it hasn't been too yuppiefied.

You could go and do some gold prospecting for yourself, or just call by and visit the Welcome Stranger - the largest gold nugget ever found, weighing in at an estimated 97 kilograms. After your imagining your life with so much money, maybe a visit to the Giant Buddha of Compassion will help bring you back down to earth.

Personally, I like the idea of a bit of glamping as a way to soak up the local scenery. Fancy a glass? Music events? You'll have more than 60 wineries and so many cellar doors to choose from. Here's eight of 'em:

photo by denisbin - licenced under creative commons

Fancy a bevvy while visiting?

Beer, wine and cider in the Bendigo Region

Lasting from November of 2021 until March of 2022, the Summer of Cellar Doors is a great way to explore some wine tasting opportunities along with meeting local growers, wine makers and fellow imbibers.

Also in March, the very first Harvest Festival -celebrate the beginning of autumn and harvest events for local vineyards.

The Stategem Winemakers Festival is an opportunity to lounge around in Rosalind Park, listen to live music and taste some of the wine regions

Hopefully, later in the year comes Bendigo Uncorked - one of the great taste local n meet winemakers events in Victoria.

How about a Barrel Tasting weekend with each individualised tasting is hosted personally by the winemaker?

If you've got a hankering for a different kind of drink, I'd recommend the Craft Beer + Cider Fest with more than 100 small batch brewery offerings.

photo licenced under pixabay

How about some good tunes and good times?

Live Music and Festivals in the Bendigo Region

The Bendigo Blues and Roots Music Festival has been postponed until November 2022, and I'll definitely try and make the trip. It's one of the area's very popular events.

Bringing Granny and the kids?

Family Friendly things to do in Bendigo

If your kids happen to like flowers, they might be into the Tulip Festival. More than 50,000 tulips makes a great Instagram background. Or, for something completely different, go underground instead and take a trip to a gold mine.

photo by Gus Vicente- licenced under unsplash

Geeking Out?

Quirky and clever things to do in the Bendigo wine region

Bendigo Innovation Festival was online last year, but was apparently a great success with more than ninety speakers over five weeks. It's returning this year as well.

The Discovery Science & Technology Centre has an exhibition on Da Vinci's Machines until June 2022.

You can tour plenty of historic sites throughout the Bendigo Greater Region. The town hall, the city gaol, Victoria's deepest gold mine, early Chinese settlements...

Feeling Artistic?

Arts, Culture and Entertainment in Bendigo

For the arts lover there's the Bendigo Art Gallery (check out the upcoming Elvis: Direct from Graceland exhibition) and also the Sandhurst Cultural Centre which houses a museum and art gallery.

The Golden Dragon Museum is an interesting insight into a culture not always readily acknowledged for its contribution to the development of our colonial history.

For something cheap and cheerful, take a stroll along the Bendigo Artists Walk.

Looking for Something Sporty?

Active events and outdoor sports in the Barossa Valley Region

Fancy bit of competitive ballroom dancing? There'll be three days of dance sport with enough whirling and twirling to make you dizzy. Zip up from Melbourne on the Calder Hwy, grab yourself some local accommodation and get your groove on.

The Bendigo Region Yoga Festival runs from October 29-30 at Dudley House.

photo by Anupam Mahapatra - licenced under unsplash

The Wrap

We've hope you've enjoyed this run down of the Bendigo wine region and some of the incredible wineries and activities it has on offer. We will be regularly updating this page and greatly welcome any input you can offer. And if you go ahead and visit Bendigo, we hope you love it as much as we do.

Cheers

The team at Goodwill Wine

Who is Goodwill Wine?

Goodwill Wine is Australia's only certified social enterprise wine company.

What's that you ask?

We are a wine company with soul. While other wine companies are focussed on maximising their profit, we are focused on maximising our impact. We do this by donating half our profits to Australian charity. Better still, when you buy, you get to tell us where the money goes.

Our wines are every bit as good as our competitions - in fact hundreds of five star reviews would indicate better (see below) and thanks to Australian's choosing to buy their wine ethically, we have been able to donate almost half a million dollars to date.

So why would we do this?

Our founder, David Laity lost most of what he owned in the Black Saturday bushfires. Thanks to the generosity of fellow Australians, he was given the chance to start again and so he made it his mission to pay forward the help he received.

You can read his story here

Looking for a wine that helps save the world, one bottle at a time?

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