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Adelaide Plains region
Wines have been grown on the baking plains in and around Adelaide since the colony was founded. However, wine-makers quickly worked out that for most varieties that they were better off in the cooler, wetter climes of the hills running inland from the coastal plain (Barossa, Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale).
The Adelaide Plains are very hot in the summer, with week long heat waves hovering around the 40 degree mark (Graham, who grew up around here can attest to this). It is even hotter and drier than the Swan Valley. Closer to the Gulf there is some relief from the hottest part of the day due to prevailing late afternoon seas breezes. The rainfall is also quite low, at around 450 mm it is about a third of the rainfall in the Adelaide Hills.
Nevertheless southern European settlers persisted in making wines on their small plots, mainly for consumption by their families and friends, or as cheap bulk wines. It has also long been used as an anonymous source of fruit for cheaper brands of Barossa and McLaren Vale wineries.
Really good wines are possible with top wine craft as the Grange Hermitages of the 1950s were made from fruit sourced from Magill in the only marginally cooler Adelaide suburbs. The Adelaide Plains region now no longer includes the Adelaide suburbs as apart from a few vines at Penfolds in Magill and a tiny Richard Hamilton vineyard at Marion there is no more suburban commercial viticulture.
The region now covers the coastal plain region immediately to the north of Adelaide. It was formally defined with full GI status in 2002.
The Adelaide Plains region covers the area from Port Wakefield Road in the south (the boundary of the semi-industrial suburbs inland from Pt. Adelaide) to the Light River; and from the Gulf of St. Vincent to Elizabeth and Gawler to the east. It includes the towns of Virginia, Two Wells and Angle Vale, with Roseworthy and its former world renowned famous wine college lying on the border of the region with the Barossa (University of Adelaide has moved wine studies to WAITE in Adelaide's south-eastern suburbs).
The Adelaide Plains are dotted with small market gardens, rose farms and horse studs established by Italian, Greek and Yugoslavian migrants. The soils are generally red-brown sandy loams over a limestone bed, although there are some patches of alkaline clay soils.
The bulk wines began to be supplemented with some labelled bottle wines from the region in the 1970s. The more recent boutique winery revolution has had its own impact on the region, albeit low key compared to the hillier regions, and led to the push to gain formal GI status.
There are now about a dozen commercial wineries. The leading wineries with some interstate distribution are Dominic Versace, Mitolo, Primo Estate and Joe Ceravolo. Also notable is the Old Plains Organic Winery in Gawler that is making wines from 100 year and 50 year old vines that luckily survived the grape vine pull scheme of the 1980s.
The main regional varieties are full bodied plum and raisened Shirazes, Merlot, Sangiovese, Grenache, Petit Verdot (usually as a blend), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. Primo Estate's Lo Biondina Columbard shows that this much maligned cask wine variety can be lifted to new heighs with a touch of Sauvignon Blanc. top