Like many small towns of its era, Heathcote was once a bustling gold mining and logging town – the lure of striking it rich brought a diverse selection of people to the region. To the north, those immigrants who were already disillusioned with the mining experience struck a new type of gold; they developed the land for grazing, cropping and vines.
During the 1850s, German Henning Rathjen settled in the Colbinabbin area, located at the northern end of the Mount Camel Range, in today’s Heathcote wine region. He planted one of the region’s earliest vineyards, unfortunately it was destroyed by phylloxera (vine louse), and following this set back his land was used for agricultural purposes.
In the bush to the north-east of Heathcote Italian immigrants planted more vines, with more success – some are still growing today! More recently, Albino Zuber and Bruno Pangrazio were responsible for plantings, and these still contribute to some of the iconic wines that the Heathcote region is renowned for – both in Australia, and internationally.
Acknowledged as one of Australia’s wine icons, the Heathcote region is now famous for producing premium shiraz. It boasts over 25 wineries and 70 vineyards, including descendents of those early settlers, who are once again growing grapes on the range overlooking Colbinabbin.