The Bidgeebong Triangle encompasses three distinct districts, Tumbarumba in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, the Hilltops district centred on the town of Young, and the Murrumbidgee plain around Gundagai on the Hume Highway about half way between Sydney and Melbourne. The name Bidgeebong is a combination of Murrumbidgee and Billabong. The Murrumbidgee River is the lifeline of the region. Billabongs meaning places of still water in the Wiradjuri language, were the gathering or meeting places of the original owners of the area, the Wiradjuri tribe. The Wiradjuri occupied this land from time immemorial until Irish farmers established and named the first stations here in the 1800s.
The three winegrowing regions provide Bidgeebong's chief winemaker, Andrew Birks, with a range of options that ensure consistency of both style and quality in wines released under the various Bidgeebong labels. Each year, Birks has available to him grapes grown in the cool-to-cold alpine climate of Tumbarumba, the mild-to-cool climate of Hilltops/Young and in the mild-to-warm Gundagai climate. These allow him to produce outstanding single-district wines, such as Tumbarumba Chardonnay and Gundagai Shiraz, and also the high-quality blended wines released under the Bidgeebong Triangle label.
The flexibility and diversity of wine grape production within the three wine regions supplying the Bidgeebong Winery is one of the major commercial advantages of the operation. This wine grape producing area is set to become a recognised supplier of premium quality wines on a par with the best in Australia, as planting expands and quality improves. The Gundagai, Hilltops (Young) and Tumbarumba wine regions, in the southern New South Wales foothills of Australia's highest mountain, Mt Kosciuszko, are all located within two hours road transport to Bidgeebong Winery.
This expansion of vineyards in the region is reflecting recent New South Wales wine industry trends of continued development of new small and medium sized wineries with increased specialisation in specific varieties, regional styles and brands based on cool-to-medium climate Shiraz, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Mediterranean varietals. Nowhere in Australia, perhaps even the world, can match the grape growing - and hence the winemaking - flexibility of the 'Bidgeebong Triangle'.
Grapes grown in Tumbarumba, with an alpine climate marginal for grapes even in warm years, are part of the available mix, along with fruit from cool, elevated Young (Hilltops) and relatively low-lying Gundagai, with its consequently milder and warmer climate. Yet these three areas and their vineyards are all within easy reach of Wagga Wagga, the regional centre and Australia's largest inland town, where the Bidgeebong Winery is located.
Bidgeebong's first two vintages - 2000 and 2001 - were handled at Charles Sturt University. Just prior to the 2002 vintage, an existing facility on the outskirts of Wagga Wagga was purchased and converted into a modern winery. Chief winemaker Andrew Birks regards it as providing the ideal environment for making ultra-premium wine: "It's absolutely hygeinic, it's been filled with state-of-the art equipment, and it's close to transport, power, labour and, most importantly, our grape sources."
Bidgeebong's premium range represents the very best that can be produced from the individual regions within the Bidgeebong Triangle. While fine single-region wines can be produced from the Bidgeebong Triangle, there is also magic to be unlocked by blending fruit from the different locations, and this potential is exemplified through the Bidgeebong Winery's Triangle range.