With Victoria being home to over twenty wine regions and hundreds of wineries, some of Australia’s best wines can be sourced right here.
Ballarat, the once rich gold city is central to an exciting food and wine region. Its spectacular buildings and streetscapes set the scene for an enriching regional experience.
The Ballarat Wine Region is a compact area extending from Buninyong in the south to Clunes in the North and from Blampied in the East to Coghills Creek in the West.
The region is fast growing a reputation for producing elegant cool-climate wines and fresh produce. The mist-shrouded vineyards are famous for subtle Pinot Noir and restrained Chardonnay. Low temperatures and yields from the small hands-on wineries are giving Ballarat wines a boutique reputation.
Climate – Ballarat’s climate delivers a gentle, prolonged ripening period – with average maximum temperatures of 25º or below for this critical ripening period.
Soils – Soils vary significantly, ranging from dark black loams to lighter sandy soils in the grey to grey-brown spectrum, with mottled, yellow to red clay sub-soils.
Harvest – Mid-March to Late May
Wines – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon
Harvest –Grapes are harvested in March and April – well after some areas have already finished fermenting their wines.
Beechworth is a hillside winegrowing region with a range of altitudes and different topographical aspects that allows for the premium production of several grape varieties. Beechworth is situated at elevation on the continental side of the Victorian Alps; this allows for warm, sunny days to reliably ripen the crop, as well as cool nights, which temper any heat and produce wine grapes with natural balance and elegance.
Climate – Mean daily temperatures decline with elevation. The area surrounding the township of Stanley (720m) experiences, on average a heat summation over the growing season (Oct-Apr) of 1,240° Degree Days, while Beechworth (550m) has 1,420° Degree Days, Wooragee (300m) 1,687° Degree Days and the Golden Ball area (280m) 1,725°Degree Days. The influence of elevation on temperatures also applies to mean relative humidity, where cooler denser air collects on valley floors leaving the higher areas with a drier atmosphere. Rainfall averages vary widely throughout the district from over 1,200mm at Stanley to around 650mm on the lower western extremes.
Soils – The Beechworth GI wine region covers most of the elevated land surrounding the townships of Beechworth and Stanley, stretching northward through the settlement of Wooragee; westward to the edge of the Everton Hills and the lower open grazing land; and south to the escarpment above the Murmungee basin. Significantly, the region occurs at the watershed of two drainage basins, the Ovens (including the King, Ovens, Buffalo and Buckland Rivers) and the Kiewa. The elevation and freestanding nature of the region means that water is shed in all directions of the compass. The region consists primarily of two major base rock groups: Ordovician greywacke, sandstone, mudstone and shales; and Devonian granites and granodiorite.
Harvest Time and Wine Type – With the diversity of altitude both picking times and wine types vary considerably depending on site and season variances. From quite cool climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which when picked as sparkling could be as early as February through to late March for the complex table wine styles. Shiraz typically starts from early March in the lower vineyards through to April in the cooler sites. Nebbiolo may be picked as late as May.
The first grapevines were planted in Bendigo in 1856 just after the start of the gold rush. The local soils have long proven to be ideally suited to viticulture. The grapes here are only minimally irrigated and ultimately handcrafted into premium wines.
Climate – Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters with some variation in meso-climatic conditions due to elevation, slope, and aspect.
Soils – Brownish loamy sand to clay loam soils over a stony clay base, with significant patches of gold-bearing quartz gravel sub-soils. Overall, the soils are acidic and fairly low in nutrients, needing lime, gypsum, and supplementary water. The tendency to low yields is undoubtedly the reason why the region provides red wines of such depth and strength.
Harvest – Mid-March to End of April
Wine production in this region dates back to 1870. After settlement in the 1840’s by the Rowan family of graziers, Richard Bailey began as a storekeeper, supplying diggers on the goldfields. In 1866 Richardson’s son planted vines on the rich red granite soil beneath the Warby Range, producing fortified wines of such renown that he created a thriving local and export wine business.
Climate – Ideal for ripening grapes, the Glenrowan climate is warm with low rainfall during the ripening period, cool night time temperatures and a constant breeze that allows the vines to cool rapidly at night, and warm early in the morning. This maximises temperatures for colour, flavour and tanning development.
Soils – The Warby Range is the predominant geological landmark, formed over millions of years of marine deposits and faults that lifted up granite soils to form the Ranges. The vineyards on the slopes beneath the Warby range are established on the well-drained, fertile, deep red clay and loamy soils that result from the weathering of granitic material.
Harvest – Early March to Late April
Muscat, Tokay, and Port
This is a broad valley served well by the pristine Goulburn River. A region famous for fruit growing, the grapes in this area date back to the 1850s with some of the oldest Shiraz and Marsanne vines in the world growing on the Tahbilk Estate.
Climate – The climate is gently warm. This region has a typical inland valley floor climate and substantial diurnal temperature ranges. This is mitigated by the abundance of lakes, billabongs and creeks associated with the meandering Goulburn River, as well as occasional river breezes. Abundant water for irrigation and loose textured sandy, gravelly soils typically produce generous yields without compromising colour or flavour.
Soils – While sandy loams predominate, gravel subsoils are a heritage of the Goulburn River’s prior courses. Warmed by temperatures cooler than the Barossa but warmer than the Yarra Valley, these fertile soils produce beautiful wine.
Harvest – Mid-March to late May.
The Grampians is primarily a red wine producing area and the wines possess a rare combination of elegance and power, and as exceptional capacity to age. Dominated by the Grampians National Park, the region is redolent with winemaking traditions carried forward by a new breed of highly skilled and enthusiastic winemakers.
Climate – A Mediterranean climate, with proximity to the Southern Ocean (between 100-200kms) providing a cooling influence during summer. Recognised as a cool climate grape growing region, the growing season in summer is characterised by warm to hot days, however the nights are cool to cold. Autumn is mild and reliably produces the most pleasant weather perfect for ripening grapes in these most benign conditions. The region is especially well suited to later ripening red varieties.
Soils – The formation of the Grampians region covers the oldest geological areas. Our ancient soils derived from Ordovician shales and Devonian granites are well structured, fragile and of low fertility.
Harvest – The vines are well balanced and produce low yields for harvest from late March to mid-May.
Heathcote has become recognised as a producer of extraordinary Shiraz wines, rivalling the Rhone Valley from where the grape cuttings were sourced. Grown on old and unique Cambrian soils, the wine style resonates with the individuality of the wine makers. It is home to some flagship winemakers who have achieved international fame for their interpretation of Australian terroir.
Climate – The climate and soils are strongly influenced by the Mt Camel Range which runs from Corop to Tooborac. This stretch provides a natural tunnel for the prevailing cool south to south-east winds that blow throughout the growing period from October to March. This results in slightly cooler summer temperatures than nearby Bendigo.
Soils – The slopes of the Mt Camel Range comprise a superb red soil with fine structure overlying uniformly textured red calcareous sodic clay soils.
Harvest – Mid-March to late May.
Wine grapes have been grown on the Oxley Plains since last century, with the Brown family operating their well-known winery at Milawa from 1889. In 1970, two innovative farmers started growing grapes in the upper reaches of the King Valley in the area between Moyhu and Whitfield. There are now over 70 families in the King Valley dependent on grapes as their primary source of income. The total vineyard area in the King Valley is 1,800ha, representing half of all plantings in North East Victoria.
Climate – Warm days and cool nights, influenced by the katabatic breeze that sweeps northward down the valley from the high country. Ripening varies with climatic differences down the valley, influencing the styles of wine.
Soils – The variations in topography, soils and climate provide an ideal location for growing the world’s finest wine varieties, hailing from Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhone, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia.
Harvest – Mid – March to late May.
Limited in quantity but exceptionally high quality, the Macedon Ranges has a reputation that continues to shine.
Climate – A sprawling region, Macedon Ranges is at the sharp end of Australian cool climate viticulture. Site selection and the careful partnering with grape variety, canopy management and relatively low yields are the prerequisites for success.
Soils – Skeletal mountain soils, most typically granitic sandy loams, further restrict yields and promote a finesse of viticulture and viniculture that promotes excellence.
Harvest – Mid-March to late May
Wines – Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Sparkling Wine
This region is where the stunning coastline meets the gently rolling hills. The Mornington Peninsula produces a wide variety of wines from different sites and mesoclimates. There are now over 50 cellar doors and more than 200 vineyards spread across this beautiful region.
Climate – Surrounded by Bass Strait, Port Phillip Bay and Western Port Bay, this is one of Australia’s true maritime wine regions. It experiences relatively high summer humidity, low stress, and abundant sunshine hours, and plentiful rainfall during winter and spring. The late ripening provided by a prolonged gentle autumn results in fully ripe grapes with outstanding fruit flavours, high natural acidity and fine tannins.
Soils – Soils range from the red volcanic soils of Red Hill, to the sedimentary duplex yellow of Tuerong, to brown duplex of Merricks and the sandier clay loom in Moorooduc.
Harvest – March/April – May
Pinot Gris and Grigio
The Murray River is the centrepiece for this warm climate region of Australia. Vast and reliant upon irrigation, this is the second largest wine region in Australia. There are about 1,300 growers and 23,000 hectares of vineyards, producing up to 400,000 tonnes annually.
Climate – Hot with long sunshine hours, low humidity and negligible growing season rainfall all contribute to making irrigation essential. The continental influence is strong, with consequent high shifts in diurnal temperature ranges but insufficient to make spring frosts a problem.
Harvest – early/mid-February to March
Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon
Other table wines
Although vines were first planted in this region in 1848, the modern phase of winemaking in the region dates back to 1963. Named for its physical beauty and similarity to the Pyrenees mountains bordering France and Spain, the picturesque blue-hued Pyrenees Range lies at the western reach of the Great Dividing Range.
Climate – Areas of high altitude (varying from 203 metres to 460 metres) and cool nights moderate daily temperatures allowing for the rare ability to produce a diverse range of complex yet elegant wines. Its inland location gives rise to low midsummer relative humidity and to substantial diurnal temperature ranges in spring and early summer. Relatively low humidity reduces the incidence of disease pressure resulting in minimal chemical input and some organic viticulture.
Soils – The soils are typically medium to heavy clay with quartz and isolated exposed schist on the ridges. The soils of the Pyrenees often have large amounts of gravel and may also contain red sandstone suitable for the development of rich, flavoursome red, white or sparkling wines.
Harvest – is generally from early February to end of April.
With spectacular vistas punctuated by rocky granitic outcrops, the Strathbogie Ranges Wine Region is located between Seymour and Benalla, east of the Hume Freeway with the township of Euroa at its heart. This wine region is approximately one and a half hour easy driving north-east of Melbourne.
The Region moves from the cooler climate wines in the south to the more temperate conditions in the north. Wineries range from the larger Fowles Wines at Avenel to the small family gems like RPL Wines at Locksley. Established vineyards have developed in the region with the quality of wines produced being acknowledged by wine experts across Australia.
If planning a few days away the small town of Euroa has various accommodation options available ranging from boutique B&B’s, motels and a popular caravan park situated on the Seven Creeks.
The Upper Goulburn maintains a commitment to quality wine production with a low environmental footprint. Rich in natural beauty of lakes and river systems this region is recognised as the major gateway to Victoria’s high country. Wine production dates back to the Ritchie family deciding to plant wine grapes at their Delatite property in 1968. Yields are low, and the cool climate produces generally fine wines with elevation being a key factor in determining style.
Climate – The cool evenings of the high country combined with its location on the northern side of the Great Dividing Range with significantly higher sunlight hours gives this region a natural advantage.
Soils – Soils range from granitic and granodiorite to sandstone, siltstone, claystone, limestone and dolomite.
Riesling and Gewurztraminer
Sunbury is one of Victoria’s oldest wine regions producing wine since 1860. Sunbury is located close to Melbourne and the terrain includes deep valleys, steep hills and remnant indigenous grasslands at the eastern edge of the world’s greatest volcanic plain.
Climate – The climate is influenced by the cooling winds that blow over the plain. The nearby Macedon Ranges to the north and the sea to the south also exercise their respective cooling influences.
Soils – The soils are typically dark and except on old alluvial river terraces are not particularly fertile. Their depth and structure varies significantly from lower level plains to hillsides.
Harvest – Late March to early May.
Gippsland is a producer of real wines of unique character. Scattered throughout Gippsland are over 100 individual vineyards and about 30 small, family owned wineries. The fog covered gullies and shadowy figures that cover the hills at sunset draw on the character of Gippsland and its secrets.
Climate – The climate is influenced by the weather systems moving across the south of the continent from the west to the east. Winter droughts are not uncommon in the east as systems from the north and south can block each other. South Gippsland is wetter and windier, whilst the west usually has warm, dry autumns.
Geelong wines are the expression of a cool climate, rich soils and a unique history. Low rainfall produces a rich concentration of flavour, aroma and colour. From the maritime breezes of the Bellarine and the Surf Coast, to the dark volcanic top soils of Moorabool and dry, rocky outcrops at Anakie, sub-regional nuances add complexity to the wine styles.
Climate – Cool with an extended ripening period and low rainfall averaging between 500mm-600mm per annum. Strong winds provide good airflow within the canopy, assisting in the natural control of vine disease.
Soils – Red-brown clay loams to Biscay black cracking clay, which forms a finely cracked surface crust
Harvest – Early March to end April
Wines – Chardonnay, Shiraz, Pinot Noir
Rutherglen is one of Australia’s most celebrated wine regions. Winemaking has been at the heart of the region since the 1850s. Generations later, the families who founded Rutherglen are still making wine today, joined by entrepreneurial newcomers bringing fresh ideas to build on the region’s history. Rutherglen offers a rich diversity of style – red and white table wines, sparkling wines and its internationally acclaimed fortified wines.
Climate – The dry, warm climate provides conditions for a broad range of varieties and styles. As a result, the region’s producers have trialled many varieties over the generations and continue to do so with excellent propensity for fruit ripeness and diversity of style.
Soils – The old vines that are the backbone of Rutherglen’s great fortified wines are grown on a band of loam on the lower slopes of the gentle local hills called the Rutherglen loam. Bands of red clay and quartz are also found in parts of the region where gold was once mined. Another entirely different soil type is ‘Black Dog fine sandy loam’ found around those wineries that are closer to the River Murray.
Harvest – Mid-February to late April.
White with complexity (Marsanne, Roussanne and Viognier)
The Yarra Valley is Victoria’s oldest wine region dating back to 1838. Today the area is one of Victoria’s leading wine regions with over 3,900 hectares under vine.
Climate – Elevation ranges from 100-400 metres above sea level. Rainfall is spring dominant and varies considerably across the valley from 750 to 2000mm. The growing season is relatively cool and dry with some maritime influence in the upper reaches of the valley.
Soils – Soils vary from the lower section of the valley with duplex clays quite high in minerals, to the deep and fertile red basalt volcanic soils on the higher altitude, higher rainfall areas.
Harvest – Typically late February through to mid-April. Although in the higher parts of the region it can extend until early May.