The Adelaide Hills is not just a convenient name – it is a registered Geographic Indication (GI) under international law. This means that when you buy a wine with our regional name on its label it must be grown in the Adelaide Hills.
There are also two distinct sub-regions within the Adelaide Hills: Lenswood and Piccadilly Valley, which have been identified for their rare soils and specific micro-climate.
The Adelaide Hills is one of the coolest and most elevated regions in Australia – similar to Tasmania or parts of northern Victoria. In fact ripening conditions at Piccadilly are similar to Champagne in France, which is why it is ideally suited to growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
So why do winemakers want grapes from cool vineyards?
Cool weather means grapes ripen slowly and their flavours are more seamless and elegant than warm climate grapes, which make more robust, high alcohol wines. Cool climate wines also have higher acid levels, which enable the wine to mature more gracefully in the cellar.
As many of Europe's greatest wines come from cool regions such as Burgundy, Champagne, Alsace and Mosel, the grape varieties and clones grown in the Adelaide Hills are chosen from these French and German collections to express the best fruit flavours from these harsh environments and shallow soils.
The steep terrain of the Adelaide Hills creates an infinite array of valley micro-climates, which are a challenge for growers and winemakers.
The steep hillsides mean the use of machinery is restricted so vineyards are often hand pruned and hand picked.
The widely varying soil types can create vines which are either too vigorous (or not vigorous enough) and growers have to use special trellises ands summer pruning techniques to maximise sunlight penetration to ripen the grapes. Pest and fungal disease control can also be difficult given the higher rainfall and humidity and Hills growers are committed to integrated management regimes to reduce the use of chemicals.