Wrattonbully Wine Region
Wrattonbully lies in the rolling hill country of the Naracoorte Ranges, between the Geographical Indications of Padthaway and Coonawarra, South Australia. Grapevines were first planted in the district by George McEwin in 1885, who planted grapes as well as other fruit to supply Glen Ewin Jams.
Wrattonbully contains similar soil types to its neighbours Coonawarra and Padthaway, with large areas of shallow terra rossa soil over limestone ridges. These ridges are found throughout the region often on quite high well drained ground. In the early 1990s these soils attracted the interest of winemakers from both Coonawarra and Padthaway where the terra rossa ridges had largely all been planted. Many of the ridges in Wrattonbully showed very similar characteristics to the best vineyard sites in Coonawarra and Padthaway. This combined with the availability of good quality underground water, and available licences for irrigation, together with a similar climate to Coonawarra, led to a remarkable large scale planting program.
Led by some of Australia's larger wine companies, but also including many independent growers and other wine companies, the six year period 1994 to 1999 saw a planting boom in Wrattonbully with over 1800 hectares of vineyard established. The varieties Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot and Chardonnay represented 95% of the planting area, reflecting the booming demand for these varieties by the major Australian wine companies for, in particular, the export markets. Planting has continued at a lesser but steady pace with currently 2600 hectares under vine.
Wrattonbully has almost 50 grapegrowers, and close to 20 wine producers in the region. The potential promised by the large tracts of outstanding terra rossa soils over limestone is now being realised in wine quality, as the vineyards mature and winemakers begin to understand the unique characteristics of Wrattonbully fruit. Several trophies, gold medals and international accolades have been claimed by Wrattonbully wines and there are sure to be plenty more to come over future years.