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History

Coonawarra’s founder, John Riddoch, immigrated to Australia from Scotland during the Gold Rush in 1852 and subsequently acquired an extensive pastoral run in the South East of South Australia.

His decision to select Coonawarra to establish vines, ahead of the numerous options from his significant land holdings, was based on sound scientific principles and extensive feasibility studies on the suitability of soil and climate.

Since its foundation in the late 1800’s, the Coonawarra wine-growing region has passed through three major historical periods.

The first period involved the early settlers following Riddoch’s vision to establish the wine-growing district, which generally prospered until the First World War.

Following the two World Wars and the Great Depression, Riddoch’s original cellars were converted into a distillery, and the Redman family alone persisted with table wine production.

 

 

Samuel Wynn eventually recognised the quality of the Redman wines, and initiated the renaissance of the district by purchasing the old Riddoch Cellars in 1951. This third historical period witnessed the appreciation of many other investors of the truly great attributes of this small yet powerful tract of Terra Rossa soil.

During the past half-century, the combined efforts of many dedicated grape growers and talented winemakers, have forged a reputation for Coonawarra as a truly world class wine growing region of unique character.

 

 

Geology

 

Until approximately one million years ago, the entire South East of South Australia was covered by ocean. Since that time, geological activity and variations in polar ice caps have caused the oceans to recede westward. Now, if travelling from Coonawarra to the coast, you will cross 13 former coastlines, which have become stranded by the rising land mass and retreating oceans.

The limestone that lies under this area is porous and has excellent water retention, providing a valuable source of supplementary water during dry periods. Coonawarra Terra Rossa soil is the oldest and most fertile of the ‘Limestone Coast’ soils, and is composed largely of fine silica particles, aolian clay and organic matter, thus making it a true clay.

The geological term ‘Terra Rossa’, is of Italian origin, and was named by mineralogist Franz Zippe in 1853.

 

 

 

 

Climate

Lying south of Latitude 37, Coonawarra has a cooler climate than many other Australian grape-growing regions. This results in a long growing season marked by sunny, warm and dry days followed by cool evenings; an ideal combination for intense flavour development in fruit, for which Coonawarra is renowned.

COONAWARRA WEATHER DATA
 Average rainfall:  640mm (30 year average)
 Average daily winter temperature:  9.8 degrees
 Average daily summer temperature:  18.8 degrees
 Average elevation above sea level:  55 meters
 Sunshine hours during the growing season:  1621 hours or 7.6 hours daily
 Temperature summation:  1337 heat degree days (seven months growing season)
 Aridity:  125mm (12 months)
 
COMPARISON OF WEATHER DATA
 Region      Mean temp warmest month (ºC) Rain growing season (mm) Sunshine hours (per day) Annual rainfall (mm) Degree days Relative humidity
Coonawarra, South Australia
19.6

221

7.8
640
1337
40%
Bordeaux, France
19.6
384
7.6
900
1320
56%
Margaret River, Western Australia
20.0
274
7.7
1192
1597
53%
Napa, USA
19.1 220 9.5 650 1379 62%