Padthaway Vineyard Plantings
Of the 3884 hectares in the region, Shiraz is the most widely planted variety with approximately 1,250 hectares closely followed by Cabernet Sauvignon with over 1,000 hectares and then Chardonnay with 783 hectares. Riesling of 145 hectares, Sauvignon Blanc of 87 hectares and Merlot of 172 hectares are still planted in the region.
Padthaway’s new varieties include Verdhelo, Viognier, Traminer, Malbec and Cab Franc to name a few.
There are also significant areas of Merlot, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Pinot Gris reflecting the regions ability to consistently produce premium quality wines across a spectrum of varieties.
The “Padthaway” region runs in a Northwest – Southeast direction and cloely follows the Riddoch Highway. The Eastern side of the Riddoch Highway constitutes mainly the Western slope of the Naracoorte Range while the Western side of the highway is predominately flat country where the majority of vines are grown.
Present day geological features found in the Padthaway Viticultural Region formed as a direct result of events occurring during the Cainozoic era.
The South East was inundated by the sea some 40 million years ago, remaining covered for some 25 million years. About 15 million years ago the sea retreated, leaving the Gambier limestone deposits commonly found throughout the Padthaway region.
For a second time the sea inundated the South East and some 2 million years ago climatic changes and uplift of the land surface caused the sea to retreat for a final time. Left behind was a series of ridges parallel to the present coastline, which are the remains of coastal sand dunes
(ref. Mines and Energy).
One of these ridges, known as the West Naracoorte Range, forms the majority of the Padthaway viticultural region.
Padthaway has a very diverse and site specific range of soils. This provides many outstanding opportunities for blending options which then allows for the development of the complexities so evident in Padthaway wines.
Soils found in the region as described by Beare (unpublished reports, Wetherby / Armstrong 1978) include
a) Red-brown earths, 15-40cm of light brown loamy sand or sandy loam surface over a red or reddish brown medium to well structured clay. Rubbly lime (calcrete) occurs at a depth of 40-75cm.
b) Brown soils, 15-25cm brown or grey brown fine sandy loam surface soil over grey, grey brown, or yellow brown mottled friable clay. Soft rubbly lime, calcrete, or sheet travertine (calcrete) is present at 30-60cm usually at about 40 m.
c) Mixed shallow soils including black or dark grey clays 15-30cm deep over hard limestone (calcrete).
d) Deep sands.
A comprehensive survey of the soils in the Padthaway irrigation area was carried out in the 1970’s by K.G. Wetherby and D.W. Armstrong. (Specific land use survey SS7). The survey is titled, “Soils of the Padthaway Irrigation Area, South Australia” published in 1978.
“The climate of Padthaway is best described as Mediterranean with an annual rainfall of 502mm and a mean January temperature of 20.4ºC With the coastal influences, days during ripening are generally dry and sunny and the nights cool.”
With the absence of any significant mountains the climate of Padthaway like Coonawarra is maritime influenced.
Mean January Temperature (MJT)
MJT is the long term monthly mean of the maximum and minimum temperatures for January. The MJT for Padthaway is 20.4ºC which is lower than for the Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale but higher than Coonawara
Heat Degree Days (HDD)
The HDD is the sum of temperatures greater than 10ºC between October and April, where it is assumed that little or no growth occurs below 10ºC. Padthaway has more heat degree days than Coonawarra but less than McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley
The mean annual rainfall for Padthaway is 502mm which is less than the annual rainfall of Coonawarra but similar to that received by McLaren Vale and the Barossa Valley.
Underground water depth varies from 3-6 metres on the flats to more than 30 metres on the range country.
A well managed aquifer has seen all vineyards now using drip irrigation. With the focus on producing premium quality fruit, growers employ the use of soil moisture monitoring equipment and local weather data to maximise water use efficiency.
Irrigation licenses are issued on a volumetric basis. Vineyards in our region are allowed an allocation of up to 2 ML/ha with most vineyards having an allocation of between 1.3-1.7 ML/ha. Some blocks in the region are dry grown.
Proclaimed in 1975, the Padthaway Proclaimed Wells Area is probably the most studied irrigation area in the State and regularly updated Water Allocation Plans will ensure the sustainability of this quality wine producing area.
The Padthaway area is prone to some frost and some vineyards have installed frost protection using overhead sprays and wind generators. The majority of vines, however, are unprotected from frost due to the high cost. In past years, isolated, small, low lying areas have suffered some frost damage, but overall damage in most areas is slight.
The Padthaway area usually has minimal disease problems as it receives comparatively low rainfall and plenty of sunshine during the growing season.
Padthaway Wine Region is a Phylloxera free area. New plantings on phylloxera resistant rootstocks are increasing annually.