Regional Tasting Series: Macedon Ranges

The Macedon Ranges wine region grows some of the finest examples of cool climate wines in the country. And when it comes to cool climate, Macedon truly means cools. The region sits between 300 – 800 meters above sea level and is the coldest and most marginal growing climate in the country. Here, the high, altitude wines offer some of the finest and exciting wines being produced in the country.

The windswept and wild country puts a natural cap on the yields while providing plenty of character. Much of the vines, on hilly and undulating sites, must be picked by hand while the long, slow ripening, forced by nature's hand, produces complex and elegantly fragrant wines.

The vinous history of the region started with the Darraweit Guim and Riddells Creek plantings from the 1840s and 1850s. During that time vineyards were also established in the Sunbury region to the south, but the cool climate and recession of the 18990’s proved difficult, and winemaking fell away from the region only to be revived in the area in the late 1960s with plantings at Virgin Hills by Tom Lazar and by Gordon Knight (Granite Hills) at Baynton in 1971.

From there plantings followed in 1977 by Gordon Cope-Williams plantings at Romsey, Bob Nixon’s planting of Gisborne Peak Winery in Gisborne South in 1978, and the establishment of Hanging Rock, Rochford, Portree, and Roseberry Hill in 1983. Fast-forward to today and there are some 30 wineries and cellars doors run by a tight-knit community of locals often family-run.

Pinot and Chardonnay excel here but the likes of riesling and shiraz are certainly proving to be worthy contenders. Regardless of what is produced, there is a unifying style that presents with a more perfumed and lifted varietal expression than those of its warmer country counterparts while the natural acidity energises the wines of the region producing refined and graceful mid-weight styles beautifully.

Soil also has an impact with a mix of sandstone and shales predominating, punctuated by granitic outcrops such as those at Cobaw ridge and some more volcanic soils around Mt Macedon, Mt Gisborne, and Mt Bullendgarook in the south. The shallow, low fertile soils means the vines work hard for the money concentrating flavours and providing fine-boned, structured wines that cellar well.