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Northern Rivers Zone

This wine growing area occupies the coastal plain of New South Wales from the outskirts of Newcastle right up to the Queensland border.
It is a wine zone, rather than a region because it covers a large area and the wineries in it are not close to each other. There is a concentration of a few wineries in the Port Macquarie area and these are grouped together as the Hastings River Wine Region

On the face of it the Northern Rivers Zone is not the ideal place for viticulture, at least with most grape varieties. The climate is too humid, especially in summer and autumn when warm, dry days are required by most grape varieties. This region is known for summer rainfall and vintages can be spoilt by rain and humidity in autumn.

One answer in this region is to grow varieties tolerant of the inhospitable climate. Other methods such as vineyard layout and trellising systems are also important. Chemical spraying of the vines is expensive and can cause problems in marketing. Most grape growers thus prefer not to rely on chemical control.

Many varieties have been bred by crossing European grape varieties of the Vitis vinifera with American vine species. The resulting grapes, called French Hybrids, are resistant to phylloxera pest but also to mildew, a common problem in vineyards everywhere after summer autumn rain. The problem is that the French Hybrids are notorious for producing wines with an off, or foxy flavour. Chambourcin is a French hybrid variety that does not make wines with a pronounced foxy flavour. Chambourcin is therefore commonly used in the Northern Rivers Zone.

Verdelho is another common variety in humid wine regions. It is not a French Hybrid, but it does have a good record for thriving where other varieties would succumb to disease.

Visiting the Wineries of Northern Rivers

This wine region overlaps the North Coast tourism region of NSW which stretches from the northern outskirts of Sydney to the Queensland Border. There are well developed facilities for visiting the region and a wide range of holiday activities are possible.

If you are planning a trip to the Northern Rivers you may find the Vinodiversity hotel booking service useful. It covers a range of accommodation types and offers a wide choice of booking agencies, allowing you to find the best deals for your trip.

Some wineries in the Northern Rivers Zone and the varieties they are using

  • Alderley Creek Wines Estate Chambourcin, Verdelho
  • Divers Luck Wines Chambourcin, Verdelho
  • Friday Creek Resort Chambourcin
  • Great Lakes Wines Chambourcin, Verdelho
  • Inlam Estate Chambourcin
  • Red Tail Colombard, Verdelho
  • Stroud Valley Wines Chambourcin, Verdelho
  • Two Tails Wines Chambourcin, Gewurztraminer, Jacquez, Ruby Cabernet, Verdelho, Villard blanc
  • Villa d'Esta Vineyard Chambourcin, Chasselas, Verdelho
  • Wallambah Vale Wines Chambourcin, Verdelho

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