The tradition of wine grape growing in the Bendigo region is nearly as old as Bendigo itself. Bendigo is situated in central Victoria and has a Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and wet winters. The first grapes were planted in the Bendigo region in 1856, just after the start of the Gold Rush which brought tens of thousands of hopeful diggers from all over the world to seek their fortunes.
Bendigo’s first vignerons were Jacques Bladier and a German named Delscher, both of whom planted vineyards at Epsom about 1855, and Jean-Baptiste Loridan. The main red varieties, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, are both well suited to the region with winemakers producing long-lived wines from both styles. Bendigo is also one of Victoria's most elegant cities, with a vibrant mix of sidewalk cafes, art galleries, antique stores, stunning gold rush architecture and century-old gardens.
Vines have been planted in the Bendigo region since 1856, just after the start of the Gold Rush.
Bendigo is situated in central Victoria and has a Mediterranean climate, with dry summers and wet winters.
The region is currently home to over 30 wineries.
Soils are loamy sand to clay loam soils over a stony clay base.
Chardonnay is the main white wine produced.
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon are both well suited to the region, with winemakers producing long-lived wines from both styles.
Cabernet Sauvignons produced in Bendigo are known for their common mint characteristic.
Situated completely inland, the Bendigo region has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. There is some variation in mesoclimatic conditions due to elevation, slope and aspect, from the foothills of the central highlands to the warmer undulating plains west and north of Bendigo. Compared with its neighbouring regions, Bendigo has higher daily mean temperatures during the ripening period, a lower relative humidity and more sunshine hours.
The majority of the soils fall in the very common south-east Australian group of brownish, loamy sand to clay loam soils over a stony clay base. Overall, the soils are acidic and fairly low in nutrients, needing the application of lime, gypsum and supplementary water if reasonable yields are to be obtained. The tendency to low yields is undoubtedly the reason why the region provides red wines of such depth and strength.
White Wines: Chardonnay dominates the white grape plantings, proving once again that it can be successfully grown and made in almost any combination of climate and soil.
Cabernet Sauvignon: The wines have great depth of colour, a rich texture with abundant tannins, and fruit flavours ranging from faintly tobacco and herbaceous (in the coolest years) through to the far more common blackberry and black currant flavours. The intensity of the trademark regional eucalypt-peppermint character varies from vintage to vintage and from wine to wine but it is seldom entirely absent. The wines are long-lived with excellent cellaring potential.
Shiraz: This is recognised as the great red wine of the region. The colour is deep and the wine has a voluptuous, mouth-filling flavour and texture. Red berries and cherries are supported by more exotic pepper and spice flavours. Like the Cabernet Sauvignon the wines are long-lived with excellent cellaring potential.
Map Coordinates: 36° 45´ S
Altitude: 240 - 390 metres (787 - 1279 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1579 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall October - April: 267 millimetres (10.5 inches)
Mean January temperature: 21º C (70º F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 40%
Harvest: Mid March - end April
Paul & George Greblo, Sandhurst Ridge, Bendigo, Victoria
When the Greblo brothers bought the scrub-covered, typical Aussie bushland that would become Sandhurst Ridge, the property was home to huge feral goats, foxes, and even a camel!
The Italian Greblos had been farmers and vignerons, and wine was an intrinsic part of their daily life. Paul remembers dozens of boxes of grapes arriving at their house and the feverish activity as the children worked the grapes with their feet in tall wooden vats – so tall they could only just peer out over the edges.
“We kids dug dad’s cellar by hand, persuaded by his suggestion that we could find gold. We found no gold, but lots of pennies and halfpennies that kept us digging. I think that my father seeded the coins in sneaky encouragement,” Paul says.
Years later, Paul and three of his brothers decided to create their own viniferous paradise and planted vines at Sandhurst Ridge, 16 kilometres north-west of Bendigo, on carefully cultivated gravely clays.
“You can’t make a good wine from bad fruit, but you can certainly muck up great fruit and potentially great wine, so we are equally vigilant and loving in our winemaking,” he says.
So vigilant in fact, that the very first Sandhurst Ridge vintage gained a five-star rating in Winestate magazine.
“I can’t remember even being excited. We took it for granted that if we did the right things, we’d make good wine.”