Alpine Valleys Wine Region Vital Statistics

Map coordinants 36° 31'S
Altitude 150 - 320 m (492 - 1049 feet)
Heat degree days, Oct-Apr 1482 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, Oct-Mar 425 mm (16.7 inches)
Mean January temperature 21.3°C (70.3°F)
Relative humidity, Oct-Apr, 3 pm Average 43%
Harvest Feb-Mid April

Varieties

The Alpine Valleys Wine Region currently has 32 different grape varieties planted. Merlot makes up the largest area of planted grapevines (153 Ha), followed by Chardonnay (87 Ha), Cabernet Sauvignon (62 Ha), Shiraz (44 Ha), Pinot Noir (38 Ha) and Sauvignon Blanc (35 Ha).

Due to its wide range of soil characteristics and mesoclimates, the Alpine Valleys Wine Region has a proven track record with the capability of successfully growing the following varieties:

Red:

Barbera Cabernet Franc Cabernet Sauvignon
Dolcetto Durif Isabella
Marzemino Merlot Montepulciano
Nebbiolo Petit Verdot Pinot Noir
Sangiovese Saperavi Shiraz
Teroldego Tempranillo Touriga

 

White:

Chardonnay Gewurtztraminer Moscato Giallo
Petit Manseng Pinot Gris Prosecco
Riesling Savagnin Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon Tocai Friulano Verdelho
Vermentino Viognier  

Soils

The soils in the major basins and the combined flood plains downstream are all formed on river deposits from similar rocks. Because of the granite influence in the Buckland, Buffalo and Kiewa River Valleys, some soils there have textures that are slightly coarser and therefore lighter. There are five distinct river terraces and a recent flood plain in the Ovens & Kiewa river catchments.

The main drainage of the Region is north to north-west with the major streams eroding, rather than depositing, high up in the catchments. Further north the valleys widen, especially downstream from Rocky Point Bridge (RPB) and at Dederang in the Kiewa Valley, where smaller particle deposition has taken place with soil textures tending to be slightly heavier than soils upstream.

The soils in the major basins and the combined flood plains down stream are all formed on river deposits from weathered sedimentary and metamorphosed Ordovician rock, or from eroded Devonian granite outcrops. Ordovician deposits form heavy soils while those that contain some weathered granite, for example in the upper Buckland, Buffalo and Kiewa River Valleys, are lighter.

Soil Group Characteristics

(extract from the application for the Alpine Valleys Geographical Indication)

The soils of the Ovens and Kiewa River catchments can be divided into a recent flood plain, six distinct river terraces and true hills. The terraces will be identified as terrace (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), (v), and (vi), with (vi) being the terrace highest in the landscape.

Group 1. Undifferentiated sandy loam soils.

These soils are formed on present flood plains. Elevation ranges from 180 metres, downstream, to an elevation of 300 metres, upstream, in the four river valleys.

They have no profile development and are the most fertile soils. Soil textures do not exceed fine sandy clay loam and are mostly sandy loams. Grapevines growing on these recent alluvial soils will produce moderate yields of fruit producing lighter styles of wine than fruit produced on higher terrace soils.

Group 2. Terrace (i) soils: grey- brown gradational soils

These soils are still very young and highly fertile, with little soil profile development, and are subject to occasional flooding. Surface soil textures are mainly fine sandy loam gradually becoming fine sandy clay loam.

Control of vine vigour may present a problem with canopy management and with yields similar to that from soils in Group 1. Elevation ranges from 180 to 200 metres. Grapevines growing on these recent alluvial soils will produce moderate yields of fruit producing lighter styles of wine than fruit produced on higher terrace soils.

Group 3. Terrace (ii) soils: Grey-brown to brown gradational soils

Soils in this group show more profile development. Surface texture ranges from fine sandy loam to fine sandy clay loam with a slight increase in texture at 20 to 25cm but not exceeding a clay loam.

Vigour control is still a high priority. Carefully chosen sites where soil textures become lighter than fine sandy loam at a depth of greater than 75cm assist in vigour control, as some moisture stress can be imposed during late January and February.

Group 4. Terrace (iii) soil: Duplex soils on older sediments

These soils show much more variability between up stream and down stream locations.

Terrace (iii) soils upstream from Rocky Point Bridge (Tiii light) have yellowish brown to reddish brown soil colour with soil textures not exceeding clay loams in the B horizon.

Terrace (iii) soils down stream from RPB (Tiii heavy) have much heavier soil features and medium clay B horizons are quite common.

Vigour control is slightly less demanding because of clay layers in the profile enable the vine to be stressed at critical times during the growing season. The elevations of these soil range from 180 metres and 240 metres.

Group 5. Terrace (iv) soils: Duplex reddish brown to red brown soils

These soils show very little detail of past sedimentary patterns. Soil features change abruptly from fine sandy clay loams to reddish or red brown medium clays with extremely stable structure. Elevation is 240-250 metres.

Vigour is similar to Group (iii) soils.

Group 6. Terrace (v) and Terrace (vi) soils: Very old dark red duplex soils

This group of soils forms a ring around Mount Buffalo. These soils are on very ancient river terraces and in some cases are overlain by colluvial material. Elevation is 300 to 550 metres.

Grapevines vigour is less that Group (iv) soils.

Group 7. True hill soils: Yellow-brown to red-brown gradational to duplex soils

The hill soils have less depth (less than 1m) in the total profile, and consist of hill gravel with medium clay content. The hills are gently sloping with many differing aspects.

Vine vigour is more easily managed because of lower soil fertility and plant moisture stress can be readily applied where required.

Elevation varies between 300-550 metres upstream of Rocky Point Bridge, 240-300 metres down stream of Rocky Point Bridge and 300 – 600 metres in the Kiewa River Valley.