The Nagambie Lakes viticultural region was created in 2000 when it was officially sanctioned by Wine Australia which begs the question, “Why was it important to have a new region?”
This question raises two further questions which when answered give us the reason the winemakers and vineyard owners within Nagambie Lakes took this incredibly important step.
Firstly, why isn’t the Goulburn Valley recognised as one of Australia’s super premium wine regions?
The answer is simple – the Goulburn Valley is identified by most consumers as being the food bowl of Victoria centered on Shepparton. What’s more, the Valley is recognised as a producer of a large range of generic, value for money goods such as cheese, fresh and processed fruit and tomatoes, milk and milk by-products, and so on. The winemakers from this area had tried for decades to change the region’s food bowl image so that it might also be recognised as a super-premium and flagship wine producing viticultural region but, sadly, the consumer’s food bowl view was and remains too strong and we have failed to change this perception.
And the second question, “Why has the fruit produced in Nagambie always been able to be made into consistently better wine than elsewhere in the Valley?”
In fact in many cases not just a little better but much, much better to produce world class icon and trophy-winning wines. We are different for two reasons and both reasons have a positive impact on fruit quality.
The first reason is a unique soil and the second is its proximity to water mass.
Anyone who has visited Tahbilk on a rainy day will no doubt have noticed how red the soil is. The vibrant red colour is caused by a natural high ferrous oxide content in the soil which imparts a special and distinctive regional flavour to the wines.
But it is the proximity to the large mass of water that is the series of lakes, billabongs and lagoons, all linked by the Goulburn River which has the greatest positive impact on fruit quality. The moderating effect of being located close to large water mass is evidenced in climatic data collected at the Mitchelton weather station. The effect makes the surrounding land less susceptible to frost, and it gives it both a higher minimum temperature and a lower average maximum temperature range, resulting in a longer growing season, and cooler than expected climate … and the cooler the climate, to a point, the better the fruit quality and resultant wines.
The result is that the Nagambie Lakes region is cooler than the remainder of the greater Goulburn Valley and cooler than most other high profile Australian viticultural regions.
It is worth noting that Nagambie Lakes is the only Australian wine region, and one of only six worldwide, where the meso-climate is dramatically influenced by inland water mass.
From a marketing perspective it makes sense to define a new subregion within the greater Goulburn Valley which has the potential to become recognised as an icon viticultural region.