Water Wheel Vineyards is owned by the Cumming family who have farmed in the Bendigo region for fifty years
The history of the estate vineyards date back to 1833 when John Catto left his native Scotland to seek his fortune in the new colony of Australia. He settled near what would become Bendigo, calling his new home Memsie after the village from where he had come. John Catto planted his Memsie vineyard on clay soils, rich with limestones. The historic Memsie vineyard now produces delicious and well rounded, full flavoured Water Wheel wines.
Ron and Peter Cumming have a strong background in horticulture and place a strong emphasis on vineyard management. In 1989 the Cumming family purchased the winery, and the surrounding twenty acres of vines. Since then, three new vineyards have been planted at Bridgewater on Loddon to help enhance the complexity and improve the overall wine quality. Total plantings now exceed three hundred acres, and a recent initiative to reduce the levels of cropping to three tonnes has seen a vast improvement in all the Water Wheel editions.
Average rainfall in the Bendigo Winegrowing region is 17 inches/ annum. Whilst it is possible to grow wine grapes with this rainfall, the Water Wheel winemakers believe that to do so places too much stress on the vines, the vineyard is therefore irrigated by the nearby Loddon river with ground level mini sprays. Vines are hedged trellised, exposing the grapes to the sun to achieve maximum ripeness. Red wine grapes are grown on heavy clay soil and white wine varieties are planted on lighter, better drained soil. At the winery the emphasis is on producing high quality, fruit driven wines with strong varietal definition and length on the palate.
The first Water Wheel Estate Vineyard was planted in 1970
"Some excellent values emerge from this Victoria winery. The top bargain is the brilliant blend of 86% Shiraz, 9% Malbec, and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2005 Memsie. Aged 6-9 months in old American oak, it exhibits a dark ruby/ purple color, a big, sweet perfume of blueberries and blackberries, soft, heady fruit flavors, a touch of wood, and a background earthy, spicy component. This is a wonderful source for fine wine values from the relatively cool climate Bendigo area!" -eRobertparker.com
"I’m not sure why the folks at Water Wheel seem intent on making better and better wines and charging less for it, but I’m not complaining. This has mouthfilling, luscious black berries, sweet vanilla oak, spice, it presses all the right shiraz buttons!" --Max Allen. "Here we go again with one of Australia’s most consistent, under-priced reds. It’s packed with dark fruits and spice, supported by slightly toasty oak. The palate is satisfyingly rich, fresh, and very well balanced. Enjoyable now with good beef, but will age for several years with considerable grace. Highly Recommended!" -Winewise
"Bendigo-based Water Wheel is one of the few smallish producers who seem able to match it with the big wineries when it comes to offering value-for money table wines. This blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and malbec is far more complex than the red fruit bombs we tend to get for such a modest price. This has real complexity in the mouth and on the nose with intriguing spice, earth and savoury characters meshed together. Medium-bodied, so a good match for winter fare such as shepheard's or steak 'n' kidney pie. Bargain Buy!" -Jeff Collerson
The Weekend Australian, Australia's leading wine connoisseur chooses the year's best, Water Wheel Memsie Shiraz Cabernet Malbec 2003 "Peter Cumming has quietly and unostentatiously gone about making his reliable excellent value Water Wheel wines for 15 years. This wine has special appeal, with its powerful but restrained array of dark, black fruits, overall form structure and tannins around a core of sweetness!" -James Halliday
"A surprisingly fine white, the Chardonnay was aged in 300 liter used hogsheads, so the oak component is very subtle. Medium to full-bodied with ripe, honeyed pineapple, pear, and passion fruit characteristics, it reveals a nice texture, excellent acidity, and fine overall balance!" -Wineadvocate.com