The Ricca Terra venture of Ashley and Holly Ratcliff was decades in the making. Ashley began his journey in wine in 1992 when he joined Orlando as a viticulturist, thereafter moving to Yalumba where he remained until 2016. During this time he obtained a Bachelor of Applied Science, a masters degree in marketing and became a graduate of the AWRI sensory evaluation course. In his 15 years with Yalumba he was winery manager for the vast Riverland winery and technical manager (viticulture). He was the recipient of four major state and federal industry awards, all focusing on viticulture in drought-prone regions. So when he and Holly purchased an 8ha vineyard in the Riverland it presented the opportunity to plant varieties pushing the envelope, such as the rare planting of an ancient Balkan variety slankamenka bela. There are now 80ha of varieties, mainly selected for the climate, grown with surface mulches, soil moisture monitoring probes and smart viticultural practices. The wines are made using all of the cutting edge techniques, hand-picked into half-tonne bins and chilled for 12 hours before transfer to the winery in the Barossa Valley. Ricca Terra means rich earth in Italian. It was the first winery from the Riverland to receive a 5-star rating in the Wine Companion. Exports to the UK and the US.
In 2003 Ashley and Holly Ratcliff purchased a small 8ha vineyard in the Riverland, South Australia. The vineyard was called Ricca Terra (Italian for Rich Earth). The soils found throughout the vineyard are red earth over limestone, which have the reputation for being very fertile. The vineyard purchased was planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet and Sultana. Ashley and Holly’s primary intent after purchasing the vineyard was to plant grape varieties appropriately suited to Australia’s warming and drying climatic conditions (Chardonnay was not one of these grape varieties). Their second intent, was to manage their vineyards in a manner that would produce high quality wines. This resulted in the elimination of machine pruning and harvesting in many of their vineyards, which is a common occurrence throughout the Riverland. Today (2019) Ricca Terra’s spread of vineyards is in excess of 80ha, and one of the largest producers of climate adaptive grape varieties in South Australia. Ashley & Holly’s vision to evolve a traditionally planted vineyard into one that could adapt to extreme climatic changes goes beyond just grape variety selection. The use of drought tolerant rootstocks, soil surface mulches, soil moisture monitoring probed and smart viticulture management are all playing their part in building a vineyard for the future!
Arinto, Nero d'Avola, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Lagrein, Fiano, Greco, Tinta Barroca, Grenache Blanc, Negroamaro.
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