The Heathcote Wine Region in Central Victoria is located about an hour's drive north of Melbourne. It is noted for its Shiraz, but many winemakers are taking a much broader view of its potential for producing quality wines from a wide range of varieties.
The Heathcote Wine Region adjoins the Bendigo Region to the west and enjoys a similar, but slightly cooler climate. To the immediate south is the much cooler Macedon Ranges region.
A unique feature of the region which many commentators mention is the soils which have developed on ancient Cambrian rocks. In fact Heathcote sits on a geological fault line and there are many different soil types originating from a very complex local geology. The undulating topography has generated a variety of microclimates suitable for viticulture.
Like many wine regions the history of this region extends back to the Gold Era of the middle to late nineteenth century, but as happened in many regions viticulture all but disappeared for several decades. In the 1960s the modern era began with small wineries around the township of Heathcote.
Since the 1990s the area to the east of the Mt Camel Range has seen large scale development by larger companies. As well as the wineries listed below, Brown Brothers has a large presence in the region; they are trialling quite a number of varieties in a nursery block.
The region seems best suited to red wine varieties, especially Shiraz, but in later years also with Sangiovese and Tempranillo. Considerable success is also being achieved with the Rhone Valley white wine varieties Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. In more recent years more interest is being shown in Italian varieties, largely due to the influence of the Chalmers family coming to the region.
You make a wine tour to Heathcote from Melbourne as a daytrip, or make an overnight stay in some of the accommodation options such as farm stays or B&Bs. This allows you to enjoy the picturesque undulating landscapes without rushing.
Many of the wineries listed above have cellar doors open for wine tasting and sales. A few have restaurants or cafes, especially on weekends.