The Riverland has long been at the heart of Australia’s wine industry, featuring tracts of vineyards that provide for around half of South Australia’s total wine production.
But the Riverland’s vinous story goes well beyond volume, with leading winemakers reinventing the region in recent times and now producing some of the most in-demand grape varieties and wine styles. Experimentation with quality alternative varieties such as nero d’avola are in hot demand, having found an ideal home in the warm, dry climate of the region. Meanwhile, more traditional benchmark varieties such as shiraz and cabernet sauvignon also flourish here.
The Riverland offers more than an exciting choice of cellar doors, with the Murray River the lifeblood of the region. Houseboat holidays and other activities are among the favourite pastimes for visitors and locals alike, all within a three-hour drive from Adelaide.
In addition to taking in the spectacular river scenery and winery stops, be sure to stop by a roadside stall to pick up some of the region’s prized fruit and vegetables.
James Halliday on the Riverland
The raison d’être for the region's irrigation crisis was the combination of a hot, dry climate with little or no disease pressure, and seemingly unlimited irrigation water supplied at a nominal price. So long as the water was available, the red sand desert became an oasis, stretching many hundreds of kilometres along the banks of the Murray River
Yields of 10 to 15 tonnes per acre (150 to 240 hectolitres per hectare) of chardonnay could be achieved from mechanically pruned and mechanically harvested grapes. Even at $300 a tonne it was profitable business for the grape grower, and enabled the big wine companies to secure market dominance in the UK in short order, and thereafter in the US.
The crucial questions were how much water would be available over the next five years and how much would it cost. If the water supply was sharply reduced, and its cost increased, could the grape growers expect to receive a sufficiently high price per tonne to produce a profit?
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Mid February to early April