Petaluma is built upon the three regions of the Adelaide Hills, Clare Valley and Coonawarra in South Australia and our carefully selected vineyard sites within them.
The Adelaide Hills are a large formation of hills which run from their southern extremity near the base of the Fleurieu Peninsula to the north of Clare, eventually encompassing the Flinders Ranges. The eastern and western extremities of the ‘Hills’ are well defined and typically separated by 30-40 kilometres. The geology of the ‘Hills’ is particularly diverse, with different fault lines exposing a large range of soils from geologically different times and influences.
In selecting vineyard sites in the Adelaide Hills, there was virtually no wine to make any kind of assessment from, a stark contrast to other established regions such as Clare and Coonawarra. Petaluma’s Piccadilly Valley vineyards were chosen with the aim of developing a more refined cool-climate Chardonnay. Now home to Petaluma's seven mature age vineyards (some now over 30 years of age) these sites provide fruit for our Petaluma Chardonnay, Bridgewater Mill Chardonnay and are a core component of the Croser Sparkling range.
Located at altitudes up to 600 metres, each vineyard has its own individual aspect and soil composition, with an underlying geology which ranges from 800 million to 1800 million years old. As well as premium Chardonnay, Piccadilly was chosen as the perfect site to grow Pinot Noir and Chardonnay for our Croser sparkling wines as it produces fruit with flavour clarity and high levels of natural acidity. These vineyards are located on the cooler more southerly aspects on the lower parts of the slope where the cooler air lingers throughout the season.
As a pioneer of the Adelaide Hills, Petaluma also identified key sites to grow Sauvignon Blanc which now some 20 years later are producing distinctive Australian Sauvignon Blanc wines equivalent to the best around the world. Key to Bridgewater Mill Sauvignon Blanc is a vineyard south-east of Piccadilly called the Deanery.
Mount Barker is located on the eastern escarpment of the Adelaide Hills, 30 kilometres directly east of the Piccadilly Valley. Petaluma pioneered the Mount Barker region of the Adelaide Hills when it planted the B&V vineyard in 1992 on the granitic–like micaceous schist soils on the western side of the Mount Barker summit. Petaluma planted the first ever Shiraz and Viognier vines in the region, with the site chosen specifically for the purpose of cultivating a refined and unique style of Australian Shiraz and Viognier. The altitude of the vineyards at 350-400 metres and the largely continental climate produce a significant day to night temperature differential. Hot, dry plains have a warming influence on Mount Barker, while the southern ocean provides a cooling influence ensuring the retention of natural acid and lending a classic elegance to Petaluma's wines.
The Clare Valley is home to our Hanlin Hill vineyard, which provides premium fruit for our benchmark Petaluma Riesling.
The region's wine heritage began in 1848 when Jesuit priests settled in Sevenhill and began producing sacramental wine. A mainly continental climate means that rain falls mainly during Winter and Spring (June to September) with annual rainfall during the growing season averaging 225mm. Planted in 1968 and located high on the north eastern edge of the valley at an altitude varying from 400-500 metres above sea level, Petaluma's Hanlin Hill vineyard is one of the highest Riesling vineyards in Clare. Located on red loams over slate parent rock, the Riesling vines on Hanlin Hill ripen late in the growing season avoiding the warm to hot temperatures which can occur in January and February. The cool nights and warm sunny days during March provide ideal conditions for Riesling, promoting the intense rich lime flavours while maintaining a flinty austerity due to the fruit's high natural acid.
The Evans Vineyard, purchased in 1978 from late Australian wine legend Len Evans, and situated in one of Australia's premier Cabernet Sauvignon regions, is the heart of Petaluma's iconic Coonawarra wine. The famous red earth (Terra Rossa) of Coonawarra, derived from limestone parent material, reflect the maritime presence of the region's geological past. While the cold Southern Ocean has now receded by over 80 kilometres, it still exerts a moderating influence on the climate of the Coonawarra region contributing to the regions ability to produce elegant, long lived Cabernet and Merlot wines.
Petaluma employs a hand pruning and hand picking regime – a foreign practice in Coonawarra, where machine pruning and picking were a much more common practice. This, coupled with minimal irrigation and careful cultivation of vines produces low yields of well exposed fruit – the result is a Coonawarra blend that is now an iconic Australian red wine and one of the benchmarks for the region.