Wine regions - Eden Valley
Eden Valley South Australia
Vineyard ice land - the magic behind Eden Valley's cool climate wines
Photo: Poonawatta Estate
The Eden Valley is a region of rugged beauty. The cool climate provides ideal conditions for the production of high quality Riesling with great attention also given to the production of Shiraz and Sauvignon Blanc.
The Eden Valley is a cool climate region nestled between 400 and
600 metres in the Barossa Range, part of the Mount Lofty Range.
The region has one sub-region, High Eden in the
Eden Valley has a quintessential Australian quality of rugged rocky gum forested slopes bathed in blue grey hues on winter's mornings and opening up into to big sky country with distant horizons and a sense of space that is very energising. This rough, rocky country belies its ability to produce wines of great delicacy and finesse.
The Eden Valley region is actually not a valley but takes its name from the township of Eden Valley. William Lillecrapp formed the town of Eden Valley in 1864 where he bought land from the South Australian Company and sub divided his land to form the township. The first homestead built in Eden Valley was Rushlea Homestead, which is now Fernfield Wines Cellar Door and still owned and operated by the Lillecrapp family - 5th generation.
Winter's morning at
The history of the region parallels that of the Barossa Valley which shares its eastern boundary with Eden Valley. Yalumba has substantial vineyard holdings, and a winery at Angaston, the site of the first vines planted by founder Samuel Smith in 1849. Henschke, well known for red and white table wines was another pioneer estate established at Keyneton in the late 1860s by Johann Christian Henschke. Those in the region who were able to follow consumer trends have emerged as the significant producers today. The return to table wines in the 1950s fostered a steady expansion in the region through the 80s and 90s.
The region's producers are dedicated to capturing the essence of the land, its weather torn remoteness and rock dominant soils. The region is primarily one of boutique wineries when in recent years Henschke and Yalumba were joined by small outstanding outfits such as Torzi Mathews, Poverty Hill and the consortium group Eden Valley Wines.
An indication of the region's quality is the fact that many winemakers outside of the region source fruit from Eden Valley for their premium labels, among them Jeffrey Grossett and Robert Hill Smith under their Mesh label.-- so although the number of wineries in the Eden Valley region is quite small the influence of the region on Australian wine making is considerable.
The signature varieties are Riesling and Shiraz. Rieslings from Eden Valley have a pristine quality reflected in their minerality, citrus fruit and spiceness, holding great finesse particularly as they age.
The Shiraz has qualities that differentiate it from their Barossan neighbour, with the cooler climate granting the fruit full flavour but with less sugar and greater softness.
Eden Valley is however, much more than its signatures, producing wines with great depth of character from Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris which are challenging traditional notions of these wines. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are also being crafted into truely unique Eden Valley styles.
The region's wineries are exploring the depths of their terrior. With each vineyard's uniqueness stamped by its altitudal position, their challenge is to manage the variable climatic to their advantage.
The 2011 vintage required micro management in the vineyard as the unseasonally wet, cool weather demanded higher levels of canopy management and delayed harvest times for both whites and reds. However, their vigilance has paid off handsomely. At Poonawatta Estate, Andrew Holt commends the fruit that made the barrel as " ... superior and bright with lots of spice and mulberry." At Radford Wines, Gill Radford has been working with biodynamic preparations to control fungal outbreaks with excellent results. She is looking forward to the wines coming off this year's fruit which has been fermented with wild yeasts and left to develop in old French puncteons.
Being the highest point in Eden Valley, High Eden is also one of the coolest. Minerally, limey Riesling is one of the stars of this region.
The area was pioneered by Joseph Gilbert who established vineyards at Pewsey Vale, the highest point in the Eden Valley. Amongst the modern day pioneers was David Wynn of Coonawarra. He first planted Chardonnay on his property Mountadam in the area. Mountadam is now under the stewardship of David Brown and winemaker Con Moshos. This is fairly tough country to farm because of the hilly terrain and poor sandy soils The climate also brings challenges to viticulturalists dealing with high winds and low, growing season rainfall. The key varieties are Riesling, Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon with additional plantings in recent times of more alternate varieties such as Pinot Gris.
Eden Valley panorama
A great trip I have done a number of times is to travel to and from the Barossa Valley via Eden Valley and the Adelaide Hills. It is the scenic way passing through beautiful and changing country with the opportunity to try wines at cellar doors along route.
The hub of the region is Angaston, a lovely historic town built of stone with eateries, an excellent cheese shop selling their own crafted cheeses and a bookshop you can lose yourself in. But the best thing about the town is Tastes of Eden Valley a wine shop that gives you the opportunity to taste a wide range of Eden Valley wines. There is plenty of comfortable cosy accommodation in the region, so you can take time to explore this unique cool climate region on the rim of the Barossa.
Other towns in the region are Moculta, Keyneton, Eden Valley and Springton.
Harvest time - Eden Valley: mid March to mid May; High Eden: early April to early May
Panorama photograph courtesy Dragan Photography
Photos: courtesy Radford Wines, Poonawatta Estate, Mountadam and Barossa Grape and Wine Association
11 May 2011