Kangaroo Island is a beautiful tourist destination with a maritime climate suitable for viticulture, but only since the 1990s has there been any successful grape growing and winemaking.
Could this be the next big wine region in Australia? Large investments have been made recently in all types of luxury accommodation. There are now world class resorts and wilderness retreats on the island and tourism will play a large part in the future of the islands economy. Wine has a role to play in that development.
There are nearly thirty vineyards operating, many have connections with mainland producers.
This Australian Wine Region is part of South Australia's Fleurieu Zone, the Southern Fleurieu Wine Region and McLaren Vale are just a short ferry ride away, or there is an air service between Adelaide and Kingscote, the Island's largest town.
The topography of the island is gently undulating with sandy soils underlain with limestone. These are very suitable for vineyards. Supplementary irrigation is required for many sites.
Most vineyards are close to the sea, hence the are has milder winters and a slightly cooler growing season than nearby mainland wine regions. The extended growing season experienced with these climatic conditions provides the opportunity for high quality wines to be produced. Bordeaux grape varieties seem to be the popular choice on the island; there is plenty of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec.
There is some Viognier, it seems to be destined for copigmentation with Shiraz rather than being made into a white varietal wine.
It is probably too early to pass judgement on Sangiovese from Kangaroo Island, but Yakka Jack, an idiosyncratic blend of Cabernet Franc and Sangiovese made by the Islander Estate received 94 Points in Halliday's Wine Companion 2008.
The five wine regions in this zone are