The Region

The Heathcote region has a terroir all of its own.  The heat summation is significantly lower than that of Bendigo, which leads to vintage being 2 weeks later on average and the soil of the Mount Camel range is distinctly different than that of the region in general being red Cambrian clay loam (Terra Rossa).

mt pleasant/mt camel image

Heathcote has made a name as an area for intensely flavoured wines and is particularly well suited to varieties including Shiraz, Cabernet, Merlot, Malbec, Grenache, Tempranlio, Petit Verdot, Semillon, Viogner and Riesling to name a few.

Some of Australia’s finest wines bear the name of Heathcote on their labels and the Barnadown Run label is one to look out for.

Location and Elevation

Central Victoria Zone 36045'S, 144017'E 240-390m


Mount Camel, Heathcote Town, Eppalock and Graytown could be names used in the potential sub-regions although there have been no applications to date.

south west view


The Heathcote region is situated wholly within the Central region of Victoria.  It has a Mediterranean climate with warm dry summers and, usually, mild, wet winters.

What makes the region an entity of its own is that it has a climate that is distinct and more homogeneous than the Goulburn Valley, Bendigo and Macedon Ranges regions. The region has various meso-climatic conditions/areas.  Nevertheless, the variations in the area are only relatively slight.  This is mainly due to the influence on climate by the Mt Camel Range, which runs the length of the region from Tooborac to Corop. The highlands running west from Tooborac also form a natural climatic barrier, which separates the region from the Macedon Ranges.

The northern end of the region is minimally warmer and drier, as would be expected. Temperatures in the Heathcote area are, on average, less than Bendigo and Goulburn Valley, and somewhat higher than the average temperatures of the Macedon Ranges.  One reason for the difference between the temperatures of Bendigo and the Goulburn Valley and the Heathcote area is a tempering of climatic conditions by the prevailing cool South to South East winds that sweep over the Tooborac hills stretching the whole length of the Mt Camel Range from South to North. These mild winds occur over the growing period from October to March.

Anecdotally, temperatures at Heathcote are usually 2 to 3 degrees centigrade less on the hottest January and February days than those in Bendigo.  And indeed, even more localised, at the Merindoc vineyard at Tooborac, the temperatures on the flat are often 2 degrees lower in winter and 2 degrees higher in the summer compared to those on the slopes.

The Mean January Temperature (MJT) for Heathcote is 21.0ºC.  This can be compared to the slightly, higher MJT for Bendigo (21 6ºC) and, in the Goulburn Valley, Shepparton (MJF-22.6ºC) and Nagambie (MJT 21.9ºC)- Macedon has a much lower Mean January Temperature of 18.2ºC.

The Heathcote region belongs to the classification with an MJT from 21-22.9ºC, which also includes Bendigo and Goulburn Valley. However, the majority of the Heathcote area is at the lowest end of this classification. Vast tracts of the northern areas of Bendigo and Goulburn Valley are at the higher end of the classification.  Macedon belongs in the area that falls between 17-18.9ºC,

 Towns  MJTºC 
 Heathcote  21.0
 Corop  21.9
 Bendigo  21.8
 Nagambie  21.9
 Shepparton  22.6
 Macedon  18.5

Another aspect of the homogeneity of the area can be seen by measuring day degrees C. The Heathcote region is estimated to experience on average just over approximately I500 day degrees C which places it in the I50I-I800 day degrees C contours. Bendigo and Goulburn Valley fall into more than one region.

Bendigo in the North and southern areas, Goulburn Valley in the north and in its southern highland regions fall into various regions/contours.  The Macedon Ranges falls wholly into the 1201-1500 day degrees C contours.

The Mean Annual Range (MAR) temperatures is the difference between the January and July mean temperatures.  Heathcote has a MAR of 13.1, Goulburn Valley 13.7, Macedon 12.8.

Although the MJT for Heathcote and Goulburn Valley are almost the same, the MAR for Heathcote is clearly lower. This would indicate that vine development is slower in spring in the Nagambie area and during the autumn period, ripening occurs at lower temperatures. This theory is from Dry and Smart (1988), However, from anecdotal experience in the vineyards at Graytown, harvest dates between Nagambie and Graytown show that Graytown's harvest is always up to two weeks later.  Other variables are also surely at work here.

Statistics - Rainfall

The Heathcote region experiences, on average, rainfall that is similar to Bendigo, and the Goulburn Valley regions. As in its neighboring areas, the southern areas of the Heathcote district have higher rainfall than the areas in the North.

The mean number of frost-free days from September to April is 232 days in the Heathcote region and frost days around the time of budburst are not much of a problem.  This could also be due to the fact that the majority of vineyards are on slopes rather than flats, The 232 frost free days fall well within 180 frost free days that are the minimum for grape growing during the period from September to April. Frost-free days in the Goulburn Valley are 201.

Sunlight hours

Sunshine hours in Heathcote 8.5 per day Oct to March; Macedon 8.0, Goulburn Valley 9.0. Heathcote and its neighbouring regions Bendigo and Goulburn Valley share much the same number of sunshine hours per day.  The Macedon Ranges experience slightly less.


The strip of Cambrian soils stretching from Tooborac to Corop are clearly the backbone of the region.  The soils are very fertile, have great water retention properties and presently support the majority of the vineyards in the area.  But it must be stressed it is this high range that climatically has a unifying effect on the whole region.  The Mt Camel range along with the Tooborac hills stretching East to West, and the western borders of the Campaspe and Coliban rivers, form a naturally discrete area which is more uniform the neighbouring Goulburn Valley and Bendigo regions.  The growers not on the Mt Camel Range are still in a more unified, slightly cooler region, which seperates them from their neighbours east and west, and warmer than the Macedon ranges in the south.

Principal grape varieties

Currently over 1500 hectares of vines have been planted in the Heathcote region. The main varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Grenache, Viognier, Semillon and Reisling.