There has been a long history of wine growing in the Bendigo area with the vines being planted following the discovery of gold in the area. The first vineyards were recorded being planted in 1855 and by 1861 there were well over 40 vineyards producing in the area. Production in Bendigo peaked around 1880 with 540 acres under vine divided among over 100 wineries.
In 1893 the vine louse phylloxera reached Bendigo, have being first being detected in Geelong. Originating in the US, there is still no cure other than prevention and it quickly laid waste to the Bendigo vineyards before devastating the remainder of the vineyards in Victoria. The spread of the phylloxera and an oversupply of wine coupled with the depression meant that the vineyards in Bendigo (and much of Victoria) were not replanted.
Stuart Anderson led the resurgence of wine growing in the Bendigo area, planting the first new vineyard in the area in 1969. Stuart initially planted his vineyards to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon but in 1976 added a block of Chardonnay to his vineyards, doubtless inspired by Max Lake in the Hunter Valley. Although Bendigo does not readily spring to mind as a Chardonnay area, the Balgownie Estate Chardonnay has built an impressive following since its first release in 1979.
With the vineyard now over 40 years old, the heritage and the experience with this varietal are evident in the new release 2015 vintage. Produced consistently from the original vineyards in Bendigo, the 2015 Estate Chardonnay is a wonderful complex wine with sensational balance of peach, honey fruit, crisp acid and gentle integrated oak.
The vineyards in the Yarra Valley have reached veraison. This is the point where ripening begins and the grapes begin to change colour and accumulate sugar. White grapes, such as Chardonnay begin to take on their characteristic yellow/green colour while red grapes such as Pinot Noir begin to turn to a red/black colour.