Padthaway was established as a viticultural region in 1963, with early pioneers having quite modest quality expectations. Since then the region has proved to be an excellent white wine producer and a good red wine area.
Given the absence of any significant mountains, a maritime climate generally prevails. Padthaway is picturesque township in the Limestone Coast where rows and rows of vineyards, interspersed with majestic gum trees, thread down either side of the Riddoch Highway. The main wine styles produced include Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Shiraz.
Padthaway is in the south-east of South Australia.
Identified as a potential wine region by a scientific study in 1963.
The region is currently home to around six wineries.
A maritime climate prevails.
Chief viticultural hazard is spring frost.
Soil is brown, sandy loam over red-brown clay over limestone.
Principal grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Chardonnay is the most successful of all white table wines in the region.
Given the absence of any significant mountains, a maritime climate generally prevails. The region’s original bias towards white wines is surprising given that it is significantly warmer than Coonawarra to the south, with more sunshine hours, lower rainfall and fewer rain days. It was these climatic statistics that led its founders to assume it would be more likely to succeed as a red wine area. Water availability is a severely limiting factor in an area of otherwise vast potential and irrigation is essential. Spring frosts are a major threat.
Subtle differences in slope and elevation are important as an indication of soil changes. In a 1944 CSIRO report the soil of the region was described thus: "The soil type which occurs in numerous small patches consists of a brown sandy loam over red-brown clay over limestone. This soil type is very variable in depth and there are usually some stony portions on each of the small patches in which it occurs. It is a terra rossa soil... the deeper sites of the terra rossa soils should make first class garden soils."
Chardonnay: Historically Chardonnay has been recognised as the most successful of the wines from Padthaway. There is a particular regional character to the fruit flavour which is strongly reminiscent of grapefruit. Other flavours include conventional notes of melon, fig and white peach.
Cabernet Sauvignon: Released either as a single varietal or blended with Merlot, the wine is typically of medium body with cool climate characteristics to the fore. The tannins are fine and soft and the wine does not need significant oak influence. The wines are approachable young but have the potential to age for many years. As with much of the wine from Padthaway, it is often blended with wines from other regions.
Pinot Noir: This wine is as temperamental in Padthaway as in any other region. One or two truly outstanding wines have been produced over the years, with some impressive mid-priced wines appearing recently.
Map Coordinates: 36° 37'S
Altitude: 50 metres (164 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1610 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2 ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 180 millimetres (7 inches)
Mean January temperature: 20.4º C (68.7 ºF)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 45%
Harvest: March - April