That the Riverland region of South Australia is now being re-imagined and reinterpreted is, in part, due to the efforts of one man - Ashley Ratcliffe. As a viticulturist, he knew that not only were some of the best Riverland vineyards undervalued but that many were planted to the wrong varieties for the climate.

In 2003 Ashley & Holly Ratcliff purchased a small 8ha vineyard in the Riverland, South Australia. The vineyard was called Ricca Terra (Italian for Rich Earth). The soils found throughout the vineyard are red earth over limestone, which have the reputation for being very fertile. The vineyard purchased was planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Ruby Cabernet and Sultana.

Ashley and Holly’s primary intent after purchasing the vineyard was to plant grape varieties appropriately suited to Australia’s warming and drying climatic conditions (Chardonnay was not one of these grape varieties). Their second intent, was to manage their vineyards in a manner that would produce high quality wines. This resulted in the elimination of machine pruning and harvesting and incorporating organic farming principles.

The Ratcliff's are some of the Riverlands most forward-thinking viticultural minds. After leaving Yalumba to set up his own Riverland vineyard, Ashley began investigating the potential for 'obscure' alternative varieties in his chosen region. 'Mediterranean' varieties that retain acidity in the heat, such as Fiano and Arinto have struck a cord, as well as Nero d'Avola, Negroamaro and Tinta Barocca which thrive in warmer climes. 

They have made a name for themselves initially as the source for many of Australia's most well-known 'next gen' wines focused on these alternative varieties.  Producers from hours away in McLaren Vale sought out the fastidious farming of the Ratcliff's and their selection of 'unusual' grapes.

Today Ricca Terra’s spread of vineyards is in excess of 80ha, and one of the largest growers of climate adaptive grape varieties in South Australia, as well as focusing on the growth of their own 'estate' wines. The Ricca Terra label showcases these interesting varieties and their suitability to the changing (read, warming) climate. Whether straight varietal wines or creative blends, every wine is deliciously approachable and superb value for money. 

The Ricca Terra Farms’ team may be small but what it lacks in stature, it makes up for in passion…..passion to make a difference. Napoleon Hill sums up the teamwork vision of Ricca Terra Farms perfectly:
‘It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed’

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