Bendigo and District Winegrowers Association:www.bendigowine.org.au
Bendigo is red wine country, with Australia's highest percentage of red wine (93%). It is famous for its rich and earthy Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon with both varieties showing a distinctive regional eucalypt aspect.
Bendigo is 150 km north west of Melbourne. The average rainfall is 425mm which makes it just possible to successfully grow wine grapes with this rainfall. However, the local growers believe that this places too much stress on the vines and therefore irrigation is widely used. Bendigo, like Ballarat, was a significant wine-making area in the late 19th century but disappeared rapidly after the Gold Rush finished and the vines were infested with phylloxera. The government ordered all vines to be ripped up in 1893 and there was no commercial wine-making in the area until 1969. A boutique style revival of wine-making in the area was led by Stuart Anderson's Balgownie. There are now about 50 winery or vineyards in the region.
The region is divided into three sub-regions: Granite Slopes is to the south east and includes the towns of Mandurang, Harcourt and Castlemaine; Loddon Valley to the north west has a cluster of wineries around Kingower and Marong; and Golden Waters sub-region to the south west with the towns of Bet Bet and Maryborough.
The region is dissected by a number of rivers and creeks the most significant being the Loddon, Avoca and Campaspe rivers. The region is gently undulating with brown loams deposited by the rivers and sandy granitic soils on higher ground. The region is a significant producer of premium red wines, in particular Cabernet Sauvignon (blackcurranty and cassis flavoured) and Shiraz (dense, plum and chocolate).
There is some Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc which is normally used for Bordeaux blends. Small amounts of Grenache, Mondeuse, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Barbera and Durif are filling out the red wine portfolios. The small 7% contribution from the white varieties grown here comes from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Viognier. Some of the Viognier ends up in the increasingly popular Shiraz Viognier style.