Wrattonbully in the Limestone Coast is located between the wine regions of Padthaway and the Coonawarra. Hardworking farming pioneers settled the Wrattonbully region in 1842, and today the area is still known for its world-class prime lamb, beef and pasture seed productions.
The first vines for grapes were planted in the late 1960s, but it was not until the 1990s on the excellent soils and elevated sites which attracted many winemakers from surrounding areas. The potential promised by the large tracts of outstanding terra rossa soils over limestone is now being realised, as these vineyards mature and winemakers understand the unique characteristics of Wrattonbully fruit. Limestone caves are a feature of the area, and the Wrattonbully region is home to the World Heritage Listed Naracoorte Caves.
Wrattonbully is an appellation within the Limestone Coast.
The first vines for grapes were planted in the late 1960s.
The region is currently home to around 11 wineries.
The climate is in between that of its neighbours, Coonawarra and Padthaway.
Limestone caves are a feature of the area, and the Wrattonbully region is home to the World Heritage Listed Naracoorte Caves.
Ancient terra rossa soils.
Inland maritime climate.
Wrattonbully has an inland maritime climate that is ideally suited to the growing of premium wine grapes. Reliable winter rains fill the soil profile giving the vines an idealic start to each new season. Throughout the growing season Wrattonbully experiences cool nights and warm days, perfect for slow and even ripening of the fruit. This results in fruit with great intensity of flavour and with balanced tannins. A point of difference for he region is its gently undulating rises throughout which have permitted the establishment of vineyards at elevations of 75 to 100 metres. This facilitates cold air flows and combined with the elevation provides a significant measure of frost protection.
The Wrattonbully wine region in the Limestone Coast of South Australia comprises ancient and mineral rich geology dating back to the Miocene period around 10-30 million years ago.
Wrattonbully lies on a rugged, undulating tableland to the east of the Kanawinka escarpment with the vineyards generally positioned to take advantage of the Caves and Hynam Ranges which run in a N-S direction through the region. The elevation of between 75m and 105m above sea level makes the vineyard sites of Wrattonbully unique in the Limestone Coast.
The prized red terra rossa soils are exceptionally well structured and inherently fertile, supplying a balanced release of essential nutrients.
Evolving from deposits of sedimentary clays on ancient flood plains and marine landscapes, the soils are rich in minerals such as calcium and potassium. The more favorable soils are commonly loam over clays, gradational clay loams and shallow red loams over calcreted limestone. Weathering and time have worn the calcium saturated clays into friably aggregated root zones that are deep, stable and productive.
Cabernet Sauvignon: This variety easily dominates plantings in the region. It produces fruit flavours of dark berries and intense black currents and has firm (Italianesque) tannins.
Shiraz: Shiraz is the second most widely planted variety in Wrattonbully. Medium to full bodied spectrum and intense aromatics with spice, pepper and licorice. Possibly some of the most exciting styles of shiraz coming out of Australia at the moment.
Merlot: The Merlot produced is soft, rich and fruit driven, with good power, flavour, deep colour and exceptional tannin structure.
Tempranillo: Other than the classics, Wrattonbully is showing its strength through alternative varieties such as benchmark Tempranillo.
Chardonnay: Although Wrattonbully is know mainly as a red grape area, Chardonnay of great character and juicy lemon flavour, with good acid structure, is produced.
Map Coordinates: 40° 45'S
Altitude: 75-150 metres (246-492 feet)
Heat degree days,October - April: 1468 - 1535 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2º F) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, Oct-Apr: 205 - 232 millimetres (8 - 9 inches)
Mean January temperature: 19.4 - 20.5°C (67 - 69°F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 43%
Harvest: Mid March – mid May
The Malone Family
The Malone Family’s vineyard is located along the eastern boundary of Wrattonbully on their property ‘Talinga’. For many years, production of fine wool merinos and lambs was the cornerstone of the family business. Today, it is an intensive enterprise characterised by the production of wine grapes, prime lamb, broadacre crops, pasture seed and wine.
The first plantings of Shiraz and Cabernet vines were carried out in 1998 on a 16.5 hectare site selected for its gentle slope and free-draining loam soils over limestone, which, matched with the cool climate, support the production of premium red wine grapes.
“The vines have been planted and trained to a single wire trellis to run in an east/west direction running down the gentle slope, enhancing air flow and reducing the risk of disease to the vines and fruit and as well as protecting against the risk of frost,” Will explains.
Five hectares of Chardonnay was added in 2002 in a bid to expand the range of varieties produced on the property and further capitalise on the cool climate characteristics of the Wrattonbully region. This was followed by a further 2.25 hectare planting of Shiraz in 2004.
Will and his brother Nick both hold a Bachelor of Applied Science in Agriculture from Roseworthy Agricultural College and share a role in the operation of the farm. A majority of the grapes grown are contracted under a longstanding relationship. However the family has also set aside a small parcel of fruit for its own wine production.
“We mainly did that so that we would be able to learn the process and have the systems in place in case we one day find ourselves out of contract,” Will says.
“Although we have targeted the Limestone Coast for our sales in the first instance, we have had some enquires from interstate which is encouraging. We now have our Malone Wines website up and running, and I’ve been doing lots of visits to retailers, so we’ll see how we go,” he says.