Ben Luker, Business Executive in the Wine Intelligence Sydney office, reflects on the Adelaide Hills Wine’s Hills Hoist event where 30 winemakers from the region showcased the quality and diversity they have to offer in the region
In the world wine marketplace, it can be a struggle to get your message across – or even be heard. However as you will know next time you hear the sound of a choir in a noisy and crowded square, a group acting together, and in harmony, tends to cut through the hubbub.
While this insight is neither startling or new, it is increasingly becoming part of smaller wine producer strategies. A collective approach to marketing works on a number of levels, among them shared costs when putting on tastings and masterclasses, a providing multiple reasons for potential buyers to attend. It also provides an opportunity for smaller or newer producers to piggy-back on the reputation of the region and for well-known neighbours to increase their awareness and place themselves in front of consumers.
A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend an event organised by one of these associations, Adelaide Hills Wine, where 30 winemakers from the region showcased the quality and diversity they had to offer in an event titled Hills Hoist (for the international readers, this is a play on words in reference to Australia’s famous Hills Hoist).
Adelaide Hills is “Australia’s most vibrant cool climate wine region” located in South Australia. “With over 90 wine labels and 48 cellar doors, it is acknowledged internationally for its distinctive premium wines, viticulture and stunning scenery”, according to its website.
The afternoon and evening event provided an opportunity for these Adelaide wineries to get in front of both trade and consumers through extensive tastings, but also provided a chance to dive deeper into the region and its wines through trade masterclasses. Hosted by former resident of the region and respected wine writer Nick Ryan, who was joined by many of the winemakers, these tailored sessions dived into three distinct themes through a bracket of 6 wines:
G’day Gruner: A look at one of the region’s most promising varieties
The Wild Things: All sorts of quirky wines and varietals you wouldn’t expect
Origins: Classical examples of why the region was founded and where the future lies
Throughout these sessions, a couple of points really stood out:
The region is massive and diverse from a terroir. It is really a variety of locations that should be broken into numerous different regions as not only is it approximately 70km long, but amongst the most diverse in terms of climate, soil and topography. Its “highest vineyards are sited between 600-650 metres altitude in areas such as Crafters, Summertown, Piccadilly and Carey Gully”.
From a visitor’s perspective, it is very close to the airport, Adelaide CBD, with Nick recalling a story about ordering a coffee while hiring a car at the airport and still having the beverage hot when arriving at the first cellar door – making it easy and accessible to get to.
Even though it has Adelaide in its name, the climate is drastically different with some parts receiving 1000ml more yearly rainfall than Adelaide.
Many commented on the quality in the diversity of the wines shown at the Wild Things masterclass. This wasn’t simply mediocre attempts at alternatives like Roussanne, Gewurztraminer and Gamay, but refined and distinct examples of what the Adelaide Hills can produce.
In the Origins masterclass, the room was lucky to be joined by representatives of some of the earliest wine producers in the region, including Tim Knappstein of Riposte, Paul Drogemuller of Paracombe, David LeMire of Shaw and Smith, Andrew Hardy of Petaluma and Justine Henschke of Henschke wines.
The early founders spoke about how the Adelaide Hill region was Australia’s first terrior selected region. Although it didn’t have a substantial history of viticulture, it was selected and planted based on the climatic and geographic conditions of the area.
Overall, this event showed that Adelaide Hills is surely a region to watch closely as its diverse offerings and new wines continue to grow.