New Gruner Veltliner in the Adelaide Hills, Australia

gruner veltliner hahndorf hill winery
New plantings at Hahndorf Hill Winery

Exciting things are happening at Hahndorf Hill Winery in the Adelaide Hills!

We’ve just extended our plantings of Gruner Veltliner and will continue to do so over the next 12 months, until we have fully planted our new 2.2 hectare vineyard block.

It’s amazing to think that four years ago, in 2006,  the original plant material arrived in Australia as three individual, dormant canes, each about 20cm long. They were airfreighted from Austria and transferred directly to the huge government-operated quarantine facility in Melbourne.  Here they were scrubbed and hot-water treated, poked and tested for a range of viral and other diseases.  After nearly three years and having passed all the tests, the plant material was given the ‘all clear’, and we were then given permission to propagate hundreds of little vines using tissue culture techniques at the Melbourne-based Primary Industries facility.

These tiny new ‘laboratory babies’  were initially grown on agar plates and then allowed to go dormant before being transferred to us in the Adelaide Hills in October 2009. The excitement of their arrival was immediately dampened by our shock and surprise when we saw how small the individual plants were. On average, they were about 5cm high and about as substantial as a blade of grass. Nonetheless, we persevered and planted out this batch of 3000 little vines. Because the plantlings were so tiny, we inserted a lolly stick next to each new vine to identify where it had been planted. After a few weeks, fresh, tiny buds started to appear and very soon we had a crop of growing mini-vines. The survival rate was surprisingly good under the circumstances – 87% – and is apparently due to the fact that tissue cultured vines tend to have strong root systems.

One year and much TLC later, we now have an established young vineyard. But this is not the only thing that we’re celebrating! There was sufficient growth in the new vineyard after the first season, so that in winter 2010 we were able to harvest several thousand cuttings. In close collaboration with the Adelaide Hills Vine Improvement (AHVI) group, new plants have since been propagated and have now been handed over to five other Adelaide Hills growers for planting. This exciting development is the culmination of our belief that the cool-climate Adelaide Hills, with its significant diurnal variation of temperature during the ripening season, will prove to be the perfect new home for Gruner in the Southern Hemisphere. It is for this reason we are delighted to share our plant material with other growers in the Hills and it’s now with great hope and joy that we celebrate the arrival and establishment of this northern stranger to the beautiful Adelaide Hills.

PS: It’s interesting to note that the vines seem to have settled down extremely well in their slate-rich, loamy-clay soils. Our first vintage – GRU 2010 – has remarkable minerality which undoubtedly has its source in this complex soil.

Click the link below to read more about our GRU 2010 – and other wines.

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7 Responses to New Gruner Veltliner in the Adelaide Hills, Australia

  1. Brian says:

    Look forward to trying the various examples of Gruner from the Hills.

    • larry says:

      Thanks Brian! Yes, I agree… I suspect that the different styles of Gruner that will eventaully come out of the Adelaide Hills will be well worth waiting for!
      Best regards,

  2. Diana says:

    What a wonderful, inspiring story. Shows what can be done with tenacity and vision. Is Gru being grown, produced anywhere else in Australia?

    • larry says:

      Thanks Diana. Yes, in fact the first gruner was produced in 2009 by Lark Hill of the Canberra wine region. Hahndorf Hill was the second Australian producer with our 2010 vintage. And now there are another seven growers of Gruner in the Adelaide Hills since 2011: Deviation Road Vineyard, Henschke Wines, Mt Bera Wines, Longview, Pike & Joyce, K1 Wines and Nova Vita.

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