Italian Varieties in Geelong
Advice about Growing Italian varieties in Geelong.
A Reader asks
I just stumbled onto your site tonight and WOW! Thank you for making this site.
I am a keen home wine maker and I am wondering if there are any wine varieties left in Italy that are not yet being used in Australia? I am keen to start my own little vineyard with something never grown here.
I live in Geelong, Victoria and on clay base ground. I'd like to narrow down the best variety for the local weather types.
Thank you for the compliment.
Firstly, there are literally thousands of wine grape varieties in Italy and probably less than 200 grown in Australia, so you have plenty to choose from. Here's how to narrow your choice down.
- Obviously do you want to make red or white, sweet or dry?
- Matching climate with variety, late ripening varieties won't give you usable crops in Geelong
- Soil type is less important, but your soil needs to be well drained or you may lose your vines in wet years
The best book for matching wine with climate is John Gladstones' Viticulture and Environment. Unfortunately the book is out of print, but you may be able to get a copy from a library. Gladstones latest book Wine Terroir and Climate Change has much useful information.
Your major problem in trying to get a unique-to-Australia variety is that importing new varieties is a long, expensive and sometimes frustrating process, mainly because of quarantine. One winemaker who has done this successfully recently is John Gilbert of By Jingo Wines who has imported the white wine variety Grillo from Sicily.
If you wish to compromise and grow an unusual Italian variety that is already in Australia then I suggest you look at the Chalmers Nursery Website for information about a number of interesting varieties. Chalmers Nursery is no longer in operation but the information is sound. Pay particlar attention to the time of harvest; late harvest varieties are unsuitable for Geelong's climate.
Are you planning a commercial vineyard or perhaps just a few vines to make wine for yourself? You should talk to as many local winegrowers for local experiece, don't take their word as gospel but before you break out of the mould with a new variety it is useful to know the dimensions of the mould.
Any Vinodiversity readers who wish to give further advice can do so via the comments box below.
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