Amid a hotter climate Bendigo winemakers are turning to southern European grape varieties

BENDIGO WINE: Winemakers are seeing a shift in consumer demand towards different wine varieties from the Medditeranean and other warmer parts of Europe. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
BENDIGO WINE: Winemakers are seeing a shift in consumer demand towards different wine varieties from the Medditeranean and other warmer parts of Europe. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

Bendigo winemakers are starting to see an interest among consumers for wine made with grape varieties from warmer parts of the world such as the Mediterranean.

Winemaker John Monteath from Killiecrankie Wines said they had started to use European white wine varieties from a region in southern France.

“I have a small vineyard that has traditional varieties such as cabernet, merlot and shiraz, but we now also do a little bit with the white varieties viognier and marsanne.

“They are from a southern region of France, one of the warmer parts of Europe, but there is a push towards them...we also buy some tempranillo which is a Spanish variety.”

Mr Monteath said an industry indicator of the switch towards warmer grape varieties in the region was the reduction of vineyards growing pinot noir.

“It is a variety that we have recognised to be much better suited to the cooler parts of the state such as around Macedon and south of the divide,” Mr Monteath said.

“Some of the varieties that handle the warmer climate such as grenache, nero d’avola and Spanish varieties are increasingly becoming more popular.

“But being a small producer it’s quite an expensive scenario to change varieties in the vineyard, so we have adapted by purchasing small batches of different varieties of grapes to make the wine.”

Bendigo Wine Growers Association president Wes Vine said there were two major reasons why there had been a shift towards Mediterranean varieties.

“One is that we sense the temperatures are changing. Particularly in the vintage period, we are looking for varieties that are better suited to the hotter conditions and a lot of them come from Italy or Spain,” Mr Vine said.

“The other reason is people are looking for something different and they are happy to look at different varieties and more people are travelling which lets them experience other wine styles in Europe and elsewhere.”

Winemaker Peter Cumming from Water Wheel Vineyards said they grew Italian varieties which they imported around 15 years ago.

“So far they are growing well..we’ve got enough in to make a little bit of wine at the moment, a few barrels, but the growing of the grapes is different to varieties that we are used to in Australia,” Mr Cumming said.

“They make a very nice wine.”

There will be an opportunity to taste some of the new varieties at the Strategem Bendigo Winemakers Festival where there will be over 60 wines on show, a range of cuisines, a wine tasting masterclass and live music.

The festival is annual event and will be held on Saturday April 28 in Rosalind Park.