The lush hills and valleys of Beechworth are home to boutique wine growing families and artisanal production. It is a region of handcrafted, premium styles, many of them organic and biodynamic. A wide range of grape varieties includes major excitement rising from chardonnay, shiraz and pinot noir. Shiraz is ultra stylish with plenty of spice. Julian Castagna’s biodynamic Genesis Syrah is a powerful example that has set a new benchmark for cool climate shiraz in Australia. Elegant cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, plush merlot, juicy gamay and pockets of Italian varietals are also found. Chardonnay is complex, refined and mineral as the leading white. It is often wild fermented. Ric Kinzbrunner’s local Giaconda chardonnay is celebrated as one of Australia’s greatest examples. Other white wines include perfumed viognier, crisp semillon and sauvignon blanc. Beechworth is situated 280km north of Melbourne in the foothills of the Victorian Alps. The region is tucked between the mountainous Alpine Valley to the south and flat Rutherglen district to the north. Modern viticulture was revived in the 1950s, with over 500 ha of vine now centred around the historic township of Beechworth. Overall, temperatures in the region can be classed as cool. Microclimates vary significantly with altitudes of 300-720 metres. The mineral rich hills of the former gold mining district are challenging viticultural terrain. Soils consist chiefly of fertile sandy alluvials on the flats, loams on the slopes and granitic gravels high upon the ridges. The Ovens Gold Rush of 1852 was the first of many discoveries in the area. The historic Beechworth precinct has been conserved to give a wonderful experience of the early 19th century gold mining town.