Bendigo (pronounced “BEHN-digo”
The Australian state of Victoria is divided into 19 official wine zones, known as Geographical Indications (GIs). These zones vary vastly in temperature, soil content, precipitation, and overall character. In general, Victoria is known to have some of the coolest temperatures in mainland Australia, which makes for very distinct and diverse wines.
Looking closely at Bendigo, located in central Victoria, we see a region rich in history with a wine community unwavering in their passion for quality winemaking. The first vineyards were planted in 1856, following the massive gold rush throughout Victoria and central Australia. Robust red varietals are the dominant planting, with Shiraz reigning supreme over Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec, among others. Whites in the region are lead by Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, followed closely by Riesling, Semillon and Traminer.
The climate of Bendigo is classified as warm Mediterranean, as it experiences warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. Geographic diversity within the zone, such as small changes in elevation, slopes and aspect, create some fluctuation in temperatures, though overall the region avoids seasonal extremes in weather. Long hours of warm summer sunshine create wines of intense flavour, structure and depth.
Given that the geography of the region is quite diverse, including volcanic plains, rolling hills and flood plains, the soils in the region are therefore also varied and range from gravel, sandy or clay loam, to deep clay subsoils. The combination of ideal climatic and geographic conditions, along with common practices of minimal irrigation and hand-harvesting, have epitomized Bendigo’s wines as being those of distinct character and quality, as robust and bold as the region itself.
While the wines of Bendigo have established their own standing for quality and character within Australia, it is now the winemaking community that is striving for attention as well. Winemakers and their families across the region are working together to build Bendigo’s reputation as the “Winemakers' Region”. Visitors to Bendigo often report that it is common to see and meet the winemakers, hard at work in the vineyard or the winery. The majority of wineries in Bendigo are still proudly family-owned and operated, something that is becoming scarce in Australia as even small wineries across the country are being purchased by larger conglomerate organizations. It is the local charm that Bendigo is striving to achieve and enforce, along with a renowned reputation for excellence and character.