Coonawarra - South Australia

Coonawarra is the centre of the wine growing south east region and one of Australia’s most famous wine producing areas.

Coonawarra lies within South Australia's Limestone Coast Zone. The region nudges the Victorian border 380km south east of Adelaide. From Coonawarra to Penola, a distance of only 7 kilometres, there are a total of 21 wineries.

Coonawarra, which is said to drive from an Aboriginal word meaning ‘wild honey suckle’, was established by John Riddoch 1861. With the first vines being planted in 1890, the land has become the most expensive wine producing land in Australia.

Situated in the most southern part of South Australia, it is one of the coolest wine growing regions in Australia and has produced many outstanding red wines with a favourite being Cabernet Sauvignon.

The climate is Mediterranean with cooling maritime influences off the Southern Ocean. Rainfall is low especially during the growing season, necessitating irrigation.

The region lies on a ridge 59m above sea level. The surrounding country is flat, frosty and poorly drained.

Coonawarra's secret lies in the fabulous mixture of rich terra rossa soil over the top of limestone, pure underground water and a long, cool ripening season for the grapes. Conditions that have seen this district produce wines with a unique and distinct style. This soil gives the wine its terrior or flavour of the soil. Black soil areas are interspersed amongst the Terra Rossa and these soils produce quite different wines.

Coonawarra has become synonymous with Cabernet Sauvignon. It's the star performer on the Terra Rossa. Overall the region produces quality reds from Shiraz, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Malbec and Merlot grapes. White grape varieties include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and Semillon.

Tourism, although limited by the region's isolation from a major city is fostered by events such as the Coonawarra Cabernet Celebration and Barrel Auction and the annual Coonawarra Cup held at the Penola Racecourse.

Harvest time is late March to early May.