A region awash with rustic wineries that boast warm country hospitality – and some award-winning drops to boot – get closer to the source at these Bendigo wineries.
Few of Bendigo’s wineries have restaurants, cafes or accommodation, and even fewer boast fancy interiors, or striking architectural designs. But if you venture to this Central Victorian region you’ll be richly rewarded in other ways.
Small-batch, family-run wineries reign supreme here, with relaxed, warm and engaging encounters practically guaranteed. Rock up to one of the dozen-odd cellar doors and you’re practically guaranteed a chat with one of the winemakers themselves. And rather than jostling for a spot at the tasting bench with busloads of tourists, you might just be the winery’s sole guests.
Read on to learn more about this little-known and much-underrated wine region, with our guide to the best Bendigo wineries.
Balgownie Estate Bendigo
One of Bendigo’s most well-known estates – and the region’s oldest working commercial winery, established in 1969 – Balgownie is an obvious addition to any regional winery-hopping itinerary.
Balgownie Estate Bendigo is the region’s oldest working commercial winery.
Cabernet sauvignon and shiraz were the estate’s first plantings and remain the winery’s trump cards, but there are plenty more reds, whites and sparklings to sample here, with the label’s grapes sourced from across the state. Try a few drops at the tasting bench, or indulge in a multi-course lunch at the property’s upscale restaurant.
Pair your wines with a delectable cheese and charcuterie board.
Harcourt Valley Vineyards
This multi-award-winning winery is among the more schmick and modern addresses in the region, the angular granite building surrounded by gum trees, manicured lawns and native plants, with vineyards for a backdrop. And while the cellar door might be small, it’s a bright and airy space that features a large window overlooking all the inner goings on of the winery. In warmer weather, Harcourt Valley Vineyards’ gorgeous little adjoining deck is perfect for lounging with a glass of the estate’s crisp rosé.
Sip on a glass of sparkling rose at Harcourt Valley Vineyards.
Second-generation winemaker Quinn Livingstone is at the helm of this small-batch winery, which turns out riesling and chardonnay, as well as sparkling rosé, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and the occasional limited release. But it’s not just fermented grape juice that you’ll find on offer here: Quinn and brother Kye also produce ginger beer, raspberry mead and an American pale ale.
Mandurang Valley Wines
The low-key, rustic vibe at this modest cellar door, just a 10-minute drive from the centre of Bendigo, is really rather charming.
There’s a blackboard menu where the estate’s various vintages are chalked up; the timber and brick building is bathed in natural light; and you can expect nothing less than a thoroughly warm welcome from owners – the aptly named Wes and Pamela Vine.
It’s a family affair at Mandurang, where Wes and Pamela’s son Steve has now taken the reins and is responsible for winemaking. Drop in for a chat, and don’t leave without sampling its GSM, which has become one of the Bendigo winery’s best in show.
It’s a family affair at Mandurang Valley Wines.
St Anne’s Winery Bendigo
Once known as The Big Hill Vineyard, this Bendigo winery and cellar door reopened under the St Anne’s label in August 2021, bringing the McLean family’s tally of cellar doors up to a whopping five statewide. While St Anne’s Winery Bendigo isn’t the most striking site to visit on this list, it does boast friendly and engaging staff, vineyard views, and – unlike almost any other winery in the region – a few fortifieds to try.
Full-bodied reds are the signature at this small-scale Harcourt winery, once an old apple orchard, though you can occasionally find a rosé here too. And chances are, a tasting at BlackJack will be led by one of the winemakers.
The quaint cellar door received a total facelift in early 2020, transforming from something of a humble tin shed to an inviting space with modern touches that feels a bit like someone’s living room. On one side there’s a small patio draped with greenery that overlooks the vines, while on the other the small cellar door is dwarfed by the working winery.
BlackJack is run by the affable Ian and Ken, who are close mates and old neighbours. Sit on the patio with a glass of shiraz and admire the Harcourt Valley views.
Water Wheel Wine
Half an hour’s drive from Bendigo will land you at this quiet overachiever, specialising in shiraz. Water Wheel Wine released its first vintage in 1974, and has risen from strength to strength since it was taken on by local farming family the Cummings in 1989, courting the attention of many a critic, and exporting to markets including the US and Canada.
There’s no bells and whistles at this cellar door, just warm country hospitality and some seriously quaffable (and very reasonably priced) wines.
Sutton Grange Winery
Sutton Grange has long been on the lips of Australia’s oenophiles. Despite numbering among the younger vineyards in the region – its first grapes were planted only in 1998 – this winery has already attracted a five-star rating from the illustrious Halliday Wine Companion.
Soak up those bucolic views over the estate.
Sutton Grange’s award-winning wines, produced from organically grown estate fruit, provide reason enough to visit, but the estate’s cellar door is also a destination in its own right. Inside, you’ll find a cosy, timber-decked space complete with a stone fireplace, while outside the veranda beckons on a warm summer’s day.
Wherever you sit, you’ll likely be rewarded with bucolic views over the estate, the lush lawn tumbling down into a lake in the foreground and the jagged slopes of Mount Alexander rising up in the background. The winery offers a seated tasting for $10pp, which includes nine wines from across its Fairbank and Sutton Grange range.
The picture-perfect cellar door at Sutton Grange Winery.
Gunning for the title of the region’s most unexpected cellar door is Glenwillow Wines. Hidden away in the middle of Australia’s oldest working pottery (Bendigo Pottery) in the Bendigo suburb of Epsom lies this small cellar door, manned by the Fyffe family.
While there are no vineyards to gaze over here, Glenwillow’s urban cellar door does promise a few other surprising features: you’ll find the artistic talents of Cherryl Fyffe on display here, as well as local olive oil to sample, and opals fossicked by the family in New South Wales. Come in for a relaxed tasting, or book a tour.
Sandhurst Ridge Winery
There’s a delightfully informal feel to Sandhurst Ridge Winery, run by the Greblo family, one of whom you will no doubt meet while lingering at the polished jarrah tasting bench.
Sit out on the patio at Sandhurst Ridge cellar door.
While there’s no food on offer here, you are welcome to BYO picnic to enjoy with a bottle of one of the Bendigo winery’s finest reds – there’s seating both inside the burgundy walls of the cellar door, and out on the patio under the pergola.
There is also boutique accommodation on site.
Harvest Food & Wine
If you’re in Bendigo for a good time, not a long time, then Harvest could be your best bet for tastings. This smart city centre restaurant and deli also just so happens to be the cellar door for the owner (and winemaker, and sommelier) Lincoln Riley’s own wine label North Run Wine Co., though the store stocks plenty of other local and international drops too. There’s a Continental feel to this bustling spot, which sits right in the heart of the city’s art precinct.