Eden Valley

South Australia

Eden Valley The high country of Eden Valley has a long history of viticulture equaling that of the Barossa Valley. Joseph Gilbert planted the first vines at his Pewsey Vale vineyard in 1847, the same year as the first plantings by Johann Gramp in the Barossa Valley at Rowland Flat. Eden Valley covers an area as large as that of the Barossa Valley proper, albeit less intensely developed. It is justifiably famous for its Riesling, which vies for supremacy with that of the Clare Valley. This region is also home to such renowned Shiraz vineyards as Henschke's Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone and the Chardonnay vineyards of Mountadam.

Altitude is all-important in determining mesoclimate although aspect and slope are also important in this hilly terrain. Thus, at an altitude of around 1600 feet the Pewsey Vale, Heggies and High Eden vineyards at the southern end of the Eden Valley are appreciably cooler than the more northerly vineyards at an elevation of 1300 feet around Keyneton. Overall, of course, growing season temperatures are significantly lower than those of the Barossa Valley, and the final stages of ripening and harvesting take place in much cooler conditions. The higher vineyard sites are generally much better suited to white than red wine production. Wind is a major factor, too, in restricting both growth and yield on the typically exposed hillsides. Water availability is a limiting factor in the expansion of vineyards.

It hardly needs be said that the topography is varied. Rolling, exposed hills with moderately steep gradients are commonplace, and the correct match of site and variety is critical. As one might expect given the varied terrain, there are a number of soil types. The most common range from grey to brown in colour and from loamy sand to clay loams, with subsoils deriving from weathered rock. Ironstone gravels, quartz gravels and rock fragments are present in both the surface and subsurface. These are well suited to dry land viticulture but there are also patches of weaker sandy soils on the slopes, underlain by weathered mica-schists, which have reduced water-holding capacity.