Often described as Australia's answer to the Galapagos Islands, beautiful Kangaroo Island is a mix of stunning beaches, forests, desert dunes and farmland.  Kangaroo Island is also rapidly gaining a reputation for high-quality wine and food products, including honey, regional cheeses and yoghurts, native jams, fresh oysters, prawns, crayfish, whiting, snapper and marron - to complement the crisp and innovative wines. Overall, the climate is temperate and devoid of extremes.  Site selection is important, with north and north-east facing sites preferred for viticulture, with protection from the prevailing south-easterly winds a major consideration.  The region's main wine style is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon with Merlot.

Regional Checklist: 

  • Viticulture in the region commenced in the mid 1980s. 
  • Often described as Australia's answer to the Galapagos Islands, beautiful Kangaroo Island is a mix of stunning beaches, forests, desert dunes and farmland. 
  • The region is currently home to more than 10 wineries. 
  • A wholly maritime climate prevails. 
  • Soils vary from sandy, to loam and clay over limestone. 
  • Vines require protection from the south-easterly winds blowing from the Southern Ocean. 
  • Principal grape varieties Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Climate: 
A wholly maritime climate prevails, with south-easterly winds blowing directly from the Southern Ocean and prevalent during the growing season, especially from December to March. The average summer temperature is 25°C (77°F), significantly cooler than that of Adelaide. The low growing season rainfall makes a small amount of irrigation desirable. High relative humidity of 64% means that the vineyards are susceptible to powdery mildew and Botrytis. Overall though, the climate is temperate and devoid of extremes, with a particularly even accumulation of heat. 

Soil: 
Soils vary greatly from acid duplex to alkaline sands, loams and clays overlaying limestone. Some soils are similar to those of Padthaway and can sustain good yields if adequate water is supplied.

Wines: 
Red Wines : Cabernet Sauvignon blended with Merlot is the most established wine style from the region and has produced some delightful and regionally distinct examples. Shiraz is another wine style that is beginning to produce quality wines.

Vital Statistics:
Map Coordinates:                                   5° 50' S 
Altitude:                                               30-180 metres (98.4 - 590 feet) 
Heat degree days,October - April:           1380 - 1450 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted) 
Growing season rainfall, October - April:  280 millimetres (11 inches) 
Mean January temperature:                     19.4°C (67°F) 
Relative humidity, October - April:            64% 
Harvest:                                                 Early - end March

 

Jacques Lurton, Winemaker, The Islander Estate Vineyards, Kangaroo Island, South Australia

Kangaroo Island is undoubtedly one of the youngest wine growing regions in Australia, although vines have been cultivated there for over 32 years.  It is considered to be one of the jewels of the Australian continent and has been ranked among the seven best tourist destinations in the world. Its beauty and hospitality lie in its geographical position, providing it with a pleasantly cool climate that is enjoyed as much by the vines as by the people who live there. The wind from the south often sweeps the island, creating  ideal conditions for cultivating vines organically, without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
Jaques Lurton from the Islander Estate Vineyard says frequent rain during winter provides substantial groundwater reserves; sufficient, in some instances, to survive the growing season without recourse to irrigation.

"The Islander is an 11-hectare vineyard in the centre of the island, which I established in 2000. My knowledge of the vine comes from my Bordeaux roots and subsequent winegrowing experience in France, Spain, Argentina and Chile,” he says. 

"The vines are planted at a density of 5,000 per hectare, which is quite rare in Australia. They are managed in such a way as to produce low yields and concentrated grapes, which remain not too rich in sugar and have good acidity due to the cool climate. No acid is added to any of the wines produced under The Islander label.

"To ensure consistency in the style and quality of the wines from one year to the next, a blend of grape varieties is used. My aim is to produce balanced wines, marrying varieties rarely found within the same vineyard in other parts of the world. The Islander wines are of an elegance rarely found in these latitudes and more akin to that of a Burgundy, a Bordeaux or a Piedmont."

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