MOUNT GAMBIER WINE REGION
Mount Gambier is a new and emerging region. Early varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have shown great promise as have plantings of Sauvignon Blanc. Smaller plantings of Pinot Gris, Viognier and Reisling have also attracted the attention of winemakers.
The Mount Gambier region enjoys a temperate climate, characterised by cool to cold winter and warm to hot summers. Most rainfall occurs in the winter months with Mount Gambier having an average of 711mm. Because of its proximity to the coast there is a significant maritime influence to the region’s climate. Areas near the coast exhibit less dramatic variations in temperature compared to areas further from the coast, with the sea breeze on summer afternoons having a moderating influence on temperature.
There is considerable variation in soils across the region as a result of two different geological processes firstly is the retraction of the coast line similar to the northern regions of Coonawarra and Wrattonbully, forming loamy flint soils over limestone around Kongorong and the sand and sandy loams of the areas to the east near the Victorian border, while the second is unique to Mt Gambier and Glencoe in the formation of volcanic soils.
The first grapevines were planted in the Mount Gambier wine region at Square Mile, on the south east edge of the city of Mount Gambier. This first vineyard was planted by Sandy and Helen Haig in 1982 and they opened the region’s first cellar door in 1992. The neighboring Quill family planted grapevines on their ‘Eumerella’ property in 1987. In the two decades since the first vines were planted, 5 vineyards have been established at Square Mile. During the rapid development of viticulture in the Mount Gambier region in the early to mid 1990’s, several families including Terry and Helen Strickland, Lisle Pudney, David and Trudy Herbert, Bob and Glenda Gleed and Leonie and Alan Spehr expanded or established vineyards at Mount Gambier. Many of the current vineyard properties were located in districts with a cheese or butter factory which operated through the 1900’s until late in the 1970’s, and provided milk and cream locally. The corporatisation and deregulation of the dairy industry removed small producers away from that industry.
A prominent feature of the vineyards of Mount Gambier is that they are family operations, usually associated with other agricultural pursuits such as orchards, grazing, hay production and animal husbandry. There are no corporate vineyards in the region.
The key element of the Mount Gambier region is the small but passionate group of growers who saw the potential of the region and who have been prepared to take a risk and put in the effort to realise the dream.
Mount Gambier’s vineyards have a relatively short and different history to the other wine regions of the Limestone Coast. The Mount Gambier GI was declared in 2010 and encompasses a large area from north of the township of Nangwarry, south to the coast. The oldest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir vineyards were planted in the 1980s, followed by steady expansion and inclusion of other varieties such as Cabernet and Merlot in the 1990s (35% of the total area). More than 60% of Mount Gambier’s vineyards were planted between 2001 and 2010 bringing the total are area of the region to 243 ha.
Mount Gambier Regional Winegrowers Association
PO Box 3340
President: Mr. Terry Strickland
Telephone: 08 8725 8857
Mobile: 0408 258 854
Secretary: Mrs. Leonie Spehr
Telephone: 08 87268008