THE WHISSON LAKE TERROIR
The Whisson Lake Vineyard & Winery is located on the extreme slope of Mount Carey within the Piccadilly Valley. A vertigo-inducing 15-acre hillside that rises more than 615m above sea level and home to South Australia's highest elevated commercial vineyard.
While the great wines of Burgundy had always been famous, few recognised that for Pinot Noir to flourish in Australia, it would need to be planted in regions very different to the hot, dry and flat lowlands traditionally considered best suited for vines.
For Pinot Noir to succeed here, it would require the planting of a site that was not just extreme but, by the industrial logic of the 1980s, foolhardy and even downright dangerous. At least, that’s what the locals thought!
The Vineyard was planted in 1985 and as the years wore on and the vines sent their roots further and further into the bedrock under our soil, attitudes also changed. Winemakers realised that Pinot Noir was indeed a possibility in Australia and that our extreme Piccadilly Valley site creates wines of unusual aromatic intensity and tannin structure.
As our vines age and we learn to be ever more sensitive with our winemaking, we’ve discovered entirely different wines can appear in barrel from different parts of the vineyard. That’s because, planted in the right place, Pinot Noir is something of a magnifying glass, boosting subtle terroir differences.
Like any vegetation, for it to grow and flourish, you need the perfect site. Whisson Lake's vineyard faces east, and curves and rises so steeply it has created its own mesoclimate. It's sunny and warm in some sections, cool and shady in others.
We’ve divided vineyard into a series of carefully selected single sections, sometimes little more than a few rows, from which each wine is sourced. That’s how we make entirely distinct Pinot Noirs wines, all grown from the same 15-acre hill. We're pretty lucky to say that our Pinot Noir is grown in the peak location in South Australia.
LOWER ALTITUDE VINEYARD 525 - 560m
Warm north-east-facing slope, richer soil. This vineyard was previously an orchard and
was referred to by farmers as the "Garden". We've chosen this for the name of the
wine from these rows.
MIDDLE RANGE ATITUDE 540 - 565m
Easterly exposition but sheltered by trees to south. Old, very low-yielding, unirrigated
vines with exotic ripening potential.
HIGH ALTITUDE 560 - 615m
Exceptionally well drained and exposed to the best of the morning and early afternoon
sunlight. Pinot Noir from this part of the vineyard has fine but definite structure and
pure uplifted fruit.
Significant degree of easterly orientation in the slope. Very low yields from unirrigated
25-year-old Pinot Noir vines giving wine of concentration, structure, and the ability to
age for 15+ years. It is fruit from these areas of the vineyard that are the power house
and inimitable signature of Whisson Lake Pinot Noir.
Slightly South facing slope right behind the Whisson Lake house and always ripens
later in the Vintage. This is perfect for making white style Pinot Noir.
Typically cooler & steepest part of the vineyard, which produces perfect fruit for
making lean and very structured style of Pinot Noir.