In recent years, Heathcote, lying north of Melbourne and sandwiched between the Goulburn valley to the east and Bendigo to the west has become something of a culty, glamor appellation for high end Shiraz. Like much of inland Victoria, the first plantings date from the gold rush of the 1860s and the vineyards of Heathcote lie in a small section of the Mount Camel hills, whose elevation serves to moderate summer temperatures.

The soils in Heathcote are quite distinctive. Calcium-rich, red, and stony; they are free-draining but retain enough water to allow for dry farming. The combination makes for small, concentrated, intensely flavored berries that translate to a similar style of wine.

Heathcote is really known for Shiraz and this is by far the dominant grape. A large raft of small, boutique producers make what can be fearfully expensive and highly coveted wines. Wild Duck Creek, Jasper Hill, Cornella Ridge, Syrahmi, Two Hands, Wanted Man, and even Chapoutier from France's Rhone Valley are located here or bottle Heathcote fruit. This should be a region to watch for any fan of high end Aussie Shiraz. (Wine/Appellations)