When you think of Victoria’s Heathcote wine region, the rich, velvety varietal shiraz probably comes to mind. But this slice of shiraz country has that, plus so much more on offer and is an ideal weekend getaway being just over an hour-and-a-half from Melbourne. Among the famed shiraz, expect to sink your teeth into impressive examples of cabernet sauvignon along with new wave alternative varieties like fiano, marsanne, vermentino, grenache, nero d’avola, sangiovese, tempranillo, nebbiolo and more. Along with the wine, there’s no doubt the people and cellar doors make Heathcote what it is. You’ll find yourself jumping between family-owned, quaint, homely cellar doors where you’ll chat to the winemaker themselves, to wineries where you can go behind the scenes to see all the winemaking action for yourself. Here’s some of our favourite spots to visit on your next trip to Heathcote.
Your Heathcote weekend starts with a visit to family owned and operated Sanguine Estate. You’ll bump into the whole Hunter family here, with owners/parents Tony and Lyn Hunter working alongside their children Jodi (CEO) and Mark (Winemaker), and daughter-inlaw Melissa (CFO). Enjoy a glass of award-winning wine on the terrace overlooking vineyards, or wander inside the winery for a guided tasting to learn about the family winemaking history dating back to the 1860s. Sanguine Estate is also known for their annual wine events too, so take a look at the calendar for your visit and try to time it with one. There’s the wine club blending sessions in May, wine masterclasses, tastings and cheese making in June, annual family dinners in August, Burning of the Canes celebration in September and the Sanguine Estate Music Festival in October.
Take a short drive to Mount Camel, where you’ll find your next stop Vinea Marson. The Marson family, including winemaking father-daughter duo Mario and Madeleine Marson, continue a winemaking tradition of four generations in Friuli, north-eastern Italy and Australia at Vinea Marson, Take a seat at the Cellar Door’s family table to experience the wines as they were intended – with food and good company. Tastings are held in true Italian style with antipasti and cheese, including the Drunken Buffalo coated in nebbiolo skins and estate-grown extra virgin olive oil.
It’s time to head to Toolleen to visit the Hopkins family at Tellurian Wines. At the cellar door, experience the magic of Heathcote’s changing seasons – either from inside the cellar door looking out through large glass doors, or out on the deck in the fresh country air. Winemaker Tobias Ansted has crafted wines that truly express region and site, including shiraz, grenache, mourvèdre, nero d’Avola, fiano, marsanne, viognier, riesling and other intriguing blends. Pair your tasting with locally sourced cheese and charcuterie grazing platters.
Your second day kicks off with a tasting with a view at Condie Estate. Perched atop the hill at Wild Duck Creek, you’ll be taken behind the scenes of the estate for a tasting inside the winery. Take a seat amongst the barrels, as winemaker Richie Condie personally takes you through the range, masterfully paired with a locally sourced antipasto platter. Be sure to try the shiraz, it’s a passion for Condie Estate with the Max Shiraz and Gwen Shiraz two favourites with guests.
Heading into the heart of Heathcote itself, it’s time to visit the M. Chapoutier cellar door. You’ll taste through an impressive portfolio of Australian and French-inspired wines crafted by renowned French vigneron Michel Chapoutier who planted vines in Heathcote and Pyrenees in 1997. The rustic cellar door is a charming spot to taste through the wines, which use low intervention winemaking techniques and are great expressions of the Heathcote terroir.
Take a short walk down the main street to come across your next stop Heathcote Winery. Located in an historic miners’ produce store, the cellar door includes a gallery room and charming courtyard garden, so it’s the perfect spot for the afternoon to graze on seasonal platters and wine. Heathcote Winery specialises in premium shiraz, rosé, vermentino and viognier. Their premium reds are sourced entirely from estate vineyards, and includes the signature Mail Coach Shiraz.