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Beechworth, in the northeast of Victoria, is only a small region - with perhaps two dozen vineyards and less than one hundred hectares of plantings - yet it more than punches above its weight in terms of quality and recognition.  Vineyards are beechworth-vines.jpgplanted on varying soils and altitudes, creating quite a diverse vinous landscape.  Most vineyards are planted on hillsides, nestled in the foothills on the continental side of the Victorian Alps.  Summers are hot, winters are cold, and there's rarely much rainfall (bushfires are a constant threat every summer) yet in this somewhat difficult climate, some exceptional wines are produced.

Vineyards were established in Beechworth in 1856, and by the end of the 19th century some 70 hectares of vines were planted.  Yet by the first world war only a tiny amount remained, and it was not until the late 1970s that vines were re-established (Smiths Vineyard, in 1978).  In the early 1980s Rick Kinzbrunner (Giaconda), Stephen Morris (Pennyweight) and Barry Morey (Sorrenberg) planted their vineyards, and over the ensuing decades were joined by others who saw the potential of the region.

Chardonnay and Shiraz are, in my opinion, the two star varieties, yet there is some fabulous Roussanne (grown on Graeme Warner's vineyard) and the Italian varieties Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and even Sagrantino hold great promise.