Wine regions - Tumbarumba
Tumbarumba New South Wales
Beautiful, cool and majestic
Tumbarumba is one of Australia's coolest and most picturesque vineyard regions. The alpine climate is perfect for the production of premium quality sparkling wine and top end table wine.
This remote, cool climate region is one of the highest in New South Wales. The vineyards are planted in the foothills of the Australian Alps at elevations ranging between 300 and 842 metres. Soil types vary across the region from fertile basalt to soils formed from the ancient granite rock dominating the region.
The region is half way between and Sydney and Melbourne and only 2.5 hours drive from Canberra. It takes in the Tumbarumba Shire plus Lankeys Creek in the south-west and Humula to the west.
It is a region ensconced in the lore of Mt Kosciuszko, Australia highest mountain, high country grazing, gold digging and the engineering feats of the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme.
The wine industry in contrast is a very modern tale, beginning in 1981 when Chris and Frank Minutello planted Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc in the Maragle Valley. In the same year, local farmers Juliet Cullen and Ian Cowell established vineyards.
The mid 1990s saw the region's biggest expansion of vineyard development with nearly thirty vineyards producing grapes for sparkling and table wine. Cullen and Cowell sold their vineyard to Seppelt (now part of Treasury Wine Estates).
The first cellar door was established by George Martin, a wine lover and editor of the local Tumbarumba Times. newspaper.
Today there are 300 hectacres under vine with a total crush of 3,000 tonnes per season.
Developing a Regional Identity
Frost across the vines at Courabyra.
sprinkers in background to reduce damage
to the vines
Although most of Tumbarumba's fruit is shipped out of the region for vinification, times are changing with some wine being made in the region and more wine and food experiences being made available to visitors .
Tumbarumba's identity has been forged by the quality of its fruit and pristine mountain climate and landscape. The name Tumbarumba has pride of place both on well known labels and boutique labels because their fruit excels and winemakers all over the country want to create wines from it. Under popular labels like McWilliams's Barwang and Armchair Critic, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir are introducing consumers to the region's quality. Also prominate is Penfolds's Bin 311 which uses Chardonnay from Tumbarumba's best seasons.
Like all emerging regions, within are viticulturalists and winemakers who make connections to the soul of the land. Cathy Gairn of Courabyra revels in the rigorous climate with her vineyard sitting at a cool 730 metres. She made the Top 40 of the NSW Wine Awards this year with her 2001 '805' Pinot Noir Chardonnay Pinot Meunier - a sparkling wine which spent 10 years on lees and with an added touch of Meunier expresses the purity and complexity of this mountain terrior. Under Cathy's 157 label is a Chardonnay and Pinot Noir made by Alex Mackay which again aims to draw down on the snow flushed purity of the region.
Adrian Brayne of Brayne Estate has simply put his Obsession on his label. Not wanting life to be too predictable he uses wild yeasts for fermentation. He too is looking for complexity and describes his Chardonnay as a "long wine" - 100% Tumbarumba fruit, hand cold bunch pressed, spending 18 months in French oak to give body and weight to a wine infused with a flint like minerality and crispness. He has his sights firmly on diversity producing Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Shiraz. He also has Pinot Noir and Tempranillo growing in his vineyards, the highest in the region at 842 metres. This gives him the challenge of forging new ground with these varieties.
Backing the region, winemaker Jason Brown of Moppity Vineyards fame purchased Coppabella Vineyards in late 2011. He plans to produce top class Chardonnay and craft a new identiy for Pinot Noir using Djion pinot clones. That's what's great about this region - there is so much to look forward to!
Out of region makers
Great fruit will always make its way to wineries even at a distance from the vineyards. Eden Road in Canberra produces award winning Chardonnay under The Seedling label and also makes the Chardonnay, Riesling and Pinot Grigio for Tumbarumba Wines Escape. Hungerford Hill in the Hunter Valley turned heads at the 2010 Decanter Awards, again with Chardonnay from the region. Chalkers Crossing from the Hilltops region makes Tumbarumba Chardonnay and Charles Stuart University Winery at Wagga Wagga produces a Sparkling Pinot Noir Chardonnay and Chardonnay.
Beautiful streams perfect for
contemplation and fly fishing
In Andrew Jefford's eloquent article Jefford on Monday: On the Big Hill in the August 2012 issue of Decanter magazine he laid out the flavour territory of the region's Chardonnay, noting. "They had my favourite kind of aromatic intrigue: enough to keep you returning to the glass, and hunting, and smiling, and half-remembering landscapes in which you had once stood; but not so much that you say "butter or honeycomb, kick back, and switch the conversation to politics."
Tumbarumba is Snowy Mountains country. It's very beautiful all year round and quite stunning in autumn. In February, wine and food are celebrated at Tumbafest.
Tumbafest wine and shade
what more could you want!
Tumbarumba is slowly developing wine experiences for visitors. Mannus Wines provides wine tastings and lunch on the weekends and at other times by appointment.
At Tumbarumba Wines Escape Garry and Kay Wilson have created a wine experience in the Tuscan style - their Italian connections forged through producing the finest wool in the world, sold to and crafted by Italy's finest designers and tailors. Their wines, made by Eden Road, are served with wood fired pizzas and Italian inspired platters. They also have special small group menus. Open on the weekends and other times by appointment they offer visitors an opportunity relax and meditate on the beauty of the landscape as well as try a little fly fishing in their Rainbow Trout stocked dam.
At Glenburnie Vineyard maker of Black Range Wines you can stay in B&B style accommodation and take in the magnificant views of the Snowy Mountains. Brayne Estate's cellar door is also open by appointment.
You can also purchase Tumbarumba's wines at the IGA supermarket and Gollams Foodworks in the town.
For a genuine 'get away from it all' trip to a wine region, Tumbarumba serves the purpose well and if you enjoy a little fly fishing you'll be in your element.
Harvest time: late March to mid April
2012 Vintage Report
Tumbarumba region vigernons are experiencing mixed emotions. For some it has been their worst season due to three major hail events and un-timely rain at flowering in November and at verasion in February causing some to lose 100% of their blocks. Others however, are excited at the quality of fruit that was produced this season.
Temperatures were below average throughout the spring and summer, which set the region up for some excellent fruit quality. With below average temperatures throughout the spring and summer, the cool nights provided us with good colour and flavour development of high quality.
There were some isolated hail storms in November, December and January which had an effect on vineyards in the district. Rain and cool weather at flowering impacted on the crop levels of the region.
Some untimely rain in Feburary did see growers struggle with botrytis losing up to 100% in some blocks. This impacted on final tonnages for the region effecting about 45% of total tonnes. Budburst was early to mid September. The season was about 10 to 14 days ahead of average.
Flowering was mid to late November due to cooler spring temperatures. Harvest commenced on 6th February and was well underway when the heavy rain hit the district. This lengthened the harvest period by a few weeks with the region finishing up on the 15th April.
Bunches were smaller than normal right across the region. Yields were certainly well below average but this has also played a major role is some of the outstanding parcels of fruit that has excited wine makers taking fruit out of the region.
Total yield for the district was approximately 1000 tonnes with average yield for whites at seven tonne per hectacre and for red five tonne per hectacre.
What to watch
Whites were the stand out varieties for the district with Chardonnay showing complex flavours, good length of palate, matched by acid and sugar balance. Rieslings are grown on granite based soils that express intense citrus flavours with a natural balance of acidity and a refined finish. Sauvignon Blanc developed passionfruit and gooseberry flavours.
Tumbarumba autumns are not to be missed
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