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Centred around the townships of Castlemaine, Harcourt, Maldon and Bendigo, this wine region is a bit of a dark horse. Wineries tend to be family owned and cellar doors are often staffed by the winemaker or family members, ensuring an authentic experience. With a thriving culinary culture based on a farm-to-table ethos, beautiful historical architecture, and a flourishing art scene, Bendigo is well worth adding to the itinerary.

Blackjack Vineyards

Star Cellar Door

(03) 5474 2355

Blackjack means red wine and has since Ian McKenzie and Ken Pollack planted vines on an old apple orchard in 1988. As one of the first wineries in the resurgence of the Bendigo region, they quickly established a reputation for concentrated, full-bodied, supple wines, with shiraz as the shining light.

With a very loyal following they have remained true to their style. This a small operation where a visit to the cellar door (open weekends and public holidays) is likely to result in hearing the tales of the wines directly from one of the winemakers.

Recent years have seen the expansion of the range to include three wines at a ‘weeknight drinking’ price point. However, it’s the Estate range on which their reputation is based.

With back vintages often available from the cellar door, you don’t need to be patient to see how well these wines can age. NICOLE BILSON

OUTSTANDING WINE: 2017 Blackjack Block 6 Shiraz, A$38

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