The Canberra District wine region is largely situated in a triangle between Canberra, Yass and Bungendore. The region has a unique and varied landscape, with undulating hills and distant views of the Snowy Mountains providing a stunning backdrop to many vineyards.
The complex climate and low average annual rainfall meant that the first vines were planted here in just 1971, by the pioneer of the region, Dr Edgar Riek. Despite having the most strongly continental climate in Australia, this region is building an enviable reputation for shiraz and viognier.
Slope, aspect and air drainage are all important facets of successful winegrowing in the region, which faces the constant threat and frequent occurrence of spring frosts, recurring droughts in spring and summer, a high diurnal temperature range (cold nights and hot summer days), and a generally cool harvest season. The soil here is typically brownish and features layers of shallow clay. The sub-soils are not particularly water-retentive, meaning irrigation is a must.
The Orange region is found in the rolling countryside between Cowra and Mudgee in central New South Wales, and is centred on the slopes of extinct volcano Mount Canobolas.
Overall, mild to warm midsummer temperatures, seldom rising above 32°C, are offset by cool to very cool nights during the growing season. The altitude and cool evenings make the higher parts of the region ideal for sauvignon blanc and the lower lying parts more suited to merlot, both producing outstanding table wines.
In a previous life, this charming regional centre had been an important orchard area producing apples, pears and cherries. An experimental vineyard was established at nearby Molong in the 1940s; however, vines have only been planted here commercially since 1980.
The undulating countryside is not only very attractive; it is also fundamental in determining the location of vineyards as the soils here vary widely depending on the nature of their parent rock. Soil varieties include deep red-brown clays derived from basalt, yellow-brown clays that features traces of volcanic ash, soils featuring patches of terra rossa and limestone, as well as red-brown clays interspersed with shale and gravel. The Orange region is characterised by distinct seasons that bring snow and frost in the winter, golden evenings in the spring and autumn, and bright sun in the summer, and is strongly influenced by, and largely dependent on, elevation.