The exquisite wines of the Adelaide Hills are shaped by the coolness of altitude, the changing seasons, and the skill and passion of their winemakers. The Adelaide Hills is located around 20 minutes east of the city of Adelaide and is a popular day-trip location for locals. It is a picturesque region, particularly in autumn, and is still a largely undiscovered treasure.
Twisting and turning, rising and falling, the roads offer cameo vistas with bewildering frequency. The cooler climate of the Adelaide Hills defines the region, offering a distinct point of difference to many other regions in South Australia. Rainfall varies throughout the region, increasing at higher elevations, but is mainly dominant during winter and spring. The best way to tour the Adelaide Hills is by car, enjoying a ‘classic country drive’ through the region, taking in the breathtaking views, quaint country villages, roadside produce stalls, rolling vineyards and wide open countryside. The region produces a great variety of wine, with the main styles including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine.
- The cooler climate of the Adelaide Hills defines the region.
- Vines were first planted in the region in 1839.
- The region is currently home to almost 90 wineries.
- The soils are predominantly grey to grey-brown loamy sands of low to moderate fertility.
- A popular day-trip location for locals.
- The region produces a great variety of wine, with the main styles including Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and sparkling wine.
Most of the Adelaide Hills has an unequivocally cool climate. Rainfall varies throughout the region, increasing at higher elevations, but is strongly winter and spring dominant. Irrigation is considered necessary. The main viticultural hazard is the misty, wet weather which often prevails during flowering and results in poor fruit set.
The soils are predominantly grey to grey-brown loamy sands of low to moderate fertility. Most fall into the common south-east Australian family, and are well suited to viticulture.
Sauvignon Blanc: The Adelaide Hills region is producing some of the best examples of the variety in Australia. Typically the wines are fresh, fragrant and aromatic, yet crisp and food friendly with the distinctive acidity and fine structure that typifies many wine styles from the Hills.
Chardonnay: Complex but elegant wines can be expected. The natural levels of acidity are good, allowing makers to use malolactic fermentation to increase complexity without threatening the longevity of the wines or permitting them to become soft and flabby.
Riesling: Riesling is grown across the span of climatic sites within the Adelaide Hills, producing razor-sharp, fine and delicate wines in the cooler locations and richer, more conventional wine styles on the warmer sites. For those prepared to wait five to ten years, the cooler sites provide wines with better potential for ageing.
Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot: Although not widely grown, several producers have managed to make outstanding wines from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Success with these varieties is a testament to the importance of site selection.
Pinot Noir: After a slow and uncertain start, Pinot Noir is now asserting itself as a wine style with tremendous potential for the region. There is no doubt that the Adelaide Hills is, and will remain, South Australia's leading producer of Pinot Noir.
Sparkling Wine: Substantial quantities of the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown in the Adelaide Hills are used in the making of sparkling wine. As one might expect, the style is refined, the flavour long and lingering.
Map Coordinates: 34° 50'S
Altitude: 400 - 500 metres (1312 - 1640 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1270 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October – April: 310 millimetres (12.2 inches)
Mean January temperature: 19.1°C (66°C)
Relative humidity, October - April, 9 am: Average 67%
Harvest: Early March - late April
John & Helen Edwards, the Lane Vineyard, Adelaide Hills, South Australia
The Lane's vineyards grow along picturesque Ravenswood Lane, near the village of Hahndorf, in the heart of the Adelaide Hills. At 450 metres above sea level, this undulating vineyard is a patchwork of microclimate and 52 hectares of vines are home to nine different varieties.
“The first planting in 1993 of Shiraz, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were followed by further plantings in 1997, 1998 and 2001. All plantings reflect careful consideration of aspect, variety, soil and clone. The soils in this vineyard are ancient; research estimates soils from the Adelaide Hills are 1800 million years old. The soil is mostly gravel with limestone/calcium silicates and ferrous pebbles spread throughout,” Helen says.
“The vineyard is monitored daily for pests and disease and only sprayed on an as-needs basis. This minimal intervention practice is combined with sound canopy and yield management. Efficient drip irrigation uses water from a pristine underground aquifer.
“Daytime temperatures are often 5°C cooler than the capital. During summer, night temperatures on the vineyard floor are significantly lower with a diurnal difference as great as 24°C. These climatic conditions, soils and vineyard practices create distinctive conditions for grape growing.
"In 2007, we completed a state-of-the-art small batch winery fulfilling a dream to grow, make and sell our wine. The winery building includes a cellar door and bistro and the wines from this estate have wonderful natural acidity, structure, elegance and a true sense of place.”