History

"We have struck Paradise" - Henning Rathjen 1858

The history of Heathcote is one similar to so many small towns of its era - once a bustling gold mining and logging town, bringing people of many different cultures and nationalities, with hopes of making a gold fortune. To the north of the town, those immigrants disillusioned with mining struck a new type of gold, with the development of land for grazing, cropping and vines. Henning Rathjen was one of the early German settlers to arrive to the Colbinabbin area, at the northern end of the Mount Camel Range in today's Heathcote wine region in the 1850s.

He planted one of the earliest vineyards in the region, before the arrival of the vine louse, phylloxera, which resulted in the destruction of the vines. The land was then used for agricultural purposes. In the bush to the north-east of Heathcote, Italian immigrants planted more vines, some of which still exist today. More recently, Albino Zuber and Bruno Pangrazio were responsible for plantings, which today contribute to some of the iconic wines that the Heathcote wine region is renowned for - both at home, and internationally.

Today, there are around 40 wineries, and 70 vineyards in the Heathcote region, including descendants of those early settlers, once again growing grapes on the range overlooking Colbinabbin.