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The Fleurieu Peninsula is located directly south of Adelaide, and juts out into the Gulf of St Vincent. The entire Fleurieu Zone encompasses regions such as McLaren Vale to the north, and Kangaroo Island to the west. But for our purposes, references to the Fleurieu Peninsula the southern-most part, also known as Southern Fleurieu, rather than the entire GI Zone.
Southern Fleurieu joins McLaren Vale and the Adelaide Hills to the north, and Currency Creek to the east, with Kangaroo Island just a short ferry ride to the west. Just like its neighbour to the north, Fleurieu Peninsula is a breathtaking combination of gently rolling hills and stunning ocean views.
It is seen as an emerging wine region, but like so many others in South Australia, Fleurieu is steeped in viticultural history. In recent years, Fleurieu has begun to step out of the shadow of McLaren Vale, and take its own spotlight as a premium wine producing region.
Despite being surrounded by water on three sides, the Peninsula's climate is still considered Mediterranean, albeit with a strong maritime influence. It has relatively warm summers, moderated by cooling sea breezes from the Gulf, giving the region a long, and relatively stable growing season. This is important for achieving good ripeness levels, whilst retaining natural acidity. Because of this strong maritime influence, Fleurieu Peninsula is considered a cool climate region, especially compared with most other South Australian wine zones.
The altitude for the region is quite low - only about 200m above sea level - but the undulating hills and varying topography create a range of microclimates, with differing aspects and proximities to the coast. This creates diversity in the various wines produced, as well as allowing growers and vignerons to plant a range of varieties based on site.
The soils throughout the peninsula are mostly sandy to clay loams over limestone subsoil, or buckshot gravel also over limestone. Both of these soil types support moderate vine growth, and are well suited to viticulture.
The most widely planted varieties throughout the Southern Fleurieu are Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a good representation of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay too. Shiraz produced here tends to be fragrant and elegant, with characteristic spice and a medium to full body. Similarly, Fleurieu Cabernet is on the more medium bodied end of things, with an attractive mix of gently herbaceous, tobacco characters, and red and black berry flavours. The tannins are fine and supple, though in cooler years ripeness levels can be an issue.
Being a cooler climate region, Southern Fleurieu is well suited to the production of premium Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In fact one of the premium Pinot vineyards, Foggy Hill, is found here and produces highly sought-after, complex and elegant wines.
Southern Fleurieu also grows and produces a range of alternate varieties with great success. Gruner Veltliner, Viognier and Savagnin all produce wonderfully balanced, cool-climate styles. The Fleurieu Peninsula is certainly a region on the rise, and one to keep a close eye on.
It is important to note that while many producers use fruit from the Fleurieu Peninsula, their wineries tend to be in other nearby regions, such as McLaren Vale or Adelaide Hills. There are only a handful of producers, such as Salomon Estate, that are based on the Peninsula.