The Heathcote region is famous for its rich and earthy Shiraz and, as the wine industry continues to flourish, even more varieties are gathering success and international interest – Marsanne, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Viognier and Carbernet Sauvignon, just to name a few.
The first vineyards were planted by the Rathjen family, in the Colbinabbin region, during the 1850s. Sadly, these vines and almost all others planted during this time were lost a few decades later to the phylloxera vine louse. One vineyard that did remain unaffected was Segafredo’s in Graytown (planted in 1891). Vines from this time have provided cuttings and grapes to both David Traeger and Paul Osicka making the Shiraz from these makers some of the oldest in the country. In the 1970s, a resurgence of winemaking meant many more vines were planted.
The climate and soil around Heathcote provide the perfect conditions for grape growing. The Heathcote region is at elevations between 160 metres and 380 metres and the majority of soil under vine is Cambrian – red and deep with excellent water retention. However, across the region you will find the terroir (the interaction between the soil, sunlight, rainfall and micro climates) changes vastly, so whilst all the wineries in the area will produce high quality fruit, the flavour of each will be very distinctive.
Many vineyards are family-owned and operated with some employing second or third generation winemakers. Go exploring and visit some of these beautiful wineries – each one has not only a unique story, but also a special twist on the varieties that grow in the region. It is well worth visiting as many as you can to truly appreciate the different offerings they all have. The winemakers are happy for visitors to pop in and taste their wares and they are always especially keen to meet with fellow wine-lovers who share their passion.
If you are pushed for time, visit the cellar doors on High Street who offer a selection of local wines for tasting and purchase.
For a truly personal and intimate experience, why not rent a row? Make and personally label your own wine from some of the best grapes in the world.