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        Bacchanalia History

The first Bacchanalia Vineyard was established on almost eight hectares of the most fertile land on the banks of the Werribee River at Bacchus Marsh, Victoria.

On 1 October 1994 more than 9,000 vines were planted in one day by ABC broadcaster John Reid and his wife Val using a modified tree planter.

          The vines were the first commercial plantings on the Bacchus Marsh flats, traditionally and continuously used for dairy farming, growing apples and vegetables.

The name Bacchanalia celebrates both the Bacchus township and the Festival of Bacchus, the Roman  God of wine.

Bacchanalia produces around a thousand cases of beautifully crafted wines a year. Small enough to allow close attention to the vineyard and winemaking process…yet sufficiently large to produce wines of subtlety and distinction for a growing list of customers.

Just 3 hectares of vines, producing an elegant shiraz after the style of the Northern Rhone, a rich and smooth cabernet sauvignon and a classic Semillon. The secret to Bacchanalia’s wine quality and success is simply...terroir.

The Bacchanalia vines luxuriated on the Geneva Double Curtain trellis flourishing in the deep fertile soils which contained sufficient moisture to finish the grapes without irrigation, stressing the vines slightly to give that extra concentration of flavour.

The Bacchus Marsh meso and microclimate played a significant role too.

An extremely dry climate with severe winter frosts, shut down the vines completely, affording complete regeneration in preparation for the growing season. The grapes are hand picked towards the end of April or in early May after a long ripening with huge variations in diurnal and nocturnal temperatures. Frequently in summer and autumn the mercury falls below 5 degrees C and later that day may reach 35. The longer growing period and wildly fluctuating temperatures enhances the wines with desired optimum acidity. 

It’s this combination of deep soil, dry land viticulture, and wide temperature variation over 24 hours that produces straight varietal wines of distinction from the three grape varieties.

This immense quality of Bacchanalia grapes and wines is pure serendipity.

Vines had never before been planted commercially in the Bacchus Marsh region. But Southcorp Wines recognised the potential and quickly signed on to take Bacchanalia’s first five crops. It was a gamble, but successful for both, with grapes of intense flavour and quality supplied to the world’s biggest wine producer with significant bonus payments for Bacchanalia’s grape quality.

In the meantime two of Australia’s internationally acclaimed master Shiraz winemakers Stuart Anderson, of Balgownie and Pat Carmody at Craiglee were contracted to make the first three Bacchanalia vintages. .

The wines they produced were exquisite medal winning wines which attracted rave reviews from wine publications including local Bible Epicure which scored the 2000 Shiraz four and a half bottles out of five for the 2000 Shiraz…a wine of distinction.

In 2002 the Bacchanalia Estate winery was completed where the first wines were made by John Reid assisted by wine consultants John Lakey, Patrick Carmody and Peter Dredge

A small quantitity Viognier planted around the winery was added to the Shiraz in keeping with the Northern Rhone traditional Syrah style from 2005.

          Gherang relocation

Bacchanalia operations have now been transferred to a new 36-acre vineyard and winery on Thielemanns Road, Gherang, 34 kilometres south west of Geelong and six kilometres northwest of Anglesea on Victoria’s Surf Coast.

Ben Reid, Bacchanalia’s production manager for a number of years, owns and runs the Gherang vineyard.

Part of the Geelong GI region, Gherang is fast developing a reputation with the pinot noir and shiraz grapes.

Established on a north-facing hill with a complex range of soil types Bacchanalia’s new home receives a moderate rainfall of around 600mm a year supplemented by a bore and spring fed dams.

A historic linkage between the Bacchus Marsh and Gherang vineyards was forged with the cutting and planting of thousands of Bacchus Marsh cuttings at Gherang.

And in an another treasured link to Bacchus Marsh, Shiraz PT23 clones, originally cut from Trevor Mast’s Mt Langi Ghiran winery in 1993, were also planted along with a small quantity of viognier for blending with the shiraz.


The eagerly anticipated first wines from the Gherang vineyard are expected in the 2011-12 season  

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