Ricca Terra - Innovative Vineyard of the Year

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After a six-month search that has included multiple rounds of judging and site inspections of vineyards around Australia, Young Gun of Wine has announced the trophy winners for the inaugural Vineyard of the Year Awards.

The judging panel consisted of Max Allen, Dr Mary Cole, Dr Peter Dry AM, Dr Mardi Longbottom, Dr Irina Santiago-Brown and Mark Walpole. They were supported by our vineyard inspectors: Chris Penfold (SA), Colin Bell (WA), John Whiting (VIC), Kellie Graham (TAS) and Liz Riley (NSW/ACT).

Max Allen sees the awards as, “A great opportunity to shift the focus of our national wine conversation from how wines are made to how they’re grown.”

He described judging the awards as “both the most exciting and most frustrating experience. Exciting because it made me realise – or, rather, reminded me – how much great work is being done out there in vineyards across Australia: so many people are going to such extraordinary lengths to look after their land, to make their vines more resilient, to produce better, more distinctive wine. And frustrating because it was almost impossible to narrow such a strong field down to just four winners!”

Innovative Vineyard of the Year, dubbed ‘The Groundbreaker’ – Ricca Terra Caravel Vineyard, Riverland (SA), established by viticulturist Ashley Ratcliff.

Ashley Ratcliff, through his Ricca Terra operation, has almost single-handedly redefined the possibilities and expectations of the Riverland as a wine region, defying the quantity over quality reputation. By employing viticulture practices that are employed in premium wine-growing regions and planting climate-apt grape varieties, Ratcliff has flipped the script. His newest venture, the Caravel Vineyard, which is in conversion to organics, was planted to largely celebrate Portuguese varieties. Ratcliff’s approach, with Caravel a distillation of lessons over the years, as well as a testing ground for innovative practices, offers a new blueprint for not just the Riverland to follow, but for so many other regions that are feeling the effects of climate change.