Orange: it’s cool, but there’s elevation and elevation

These last 2 days in Orange, New South Wales has really brought home the impact of elevation on vineyards.  This cutting edge cool climate region is unique in that the region is defined by reference to altitude.  Only vineyards over 600m fall within the Orange area, while those below are in the Central Ranges GI.

Yesterday, I visited Word of Mouth who cultivate among the region’s highest vineyard which, at 1000m above sea level, overlooks the town of Orange (pictured above), also Cumulus, whose vineyards at between 557-620m straddle the Orange and Central Ranges GI.  As you can see from the picture, budburst has yet to occur at Word of Mouth.  At Cumulus, whose vineyards (pictured below) reveal the full height of Mount Canobolas, buds and leaves are just sprouting. 

As for harvest, Word of Mouth’s owner, Peter Gibson, told me that he invariably starts picking his whites when Cumulus start picking their reds.  There can be as much as 10 degrees difference in temperature between the two sites and a month’s difference in harvest date.  It explains why Gibson range focuses on whites, while Cumulus do the whole shooting match.  Check out Word of Mouth’s website here for a photo of the vineyard under snow.  I highly recommend their whites, especially the Pinot Gris and, though reds are trickier, his 2007 Pinot Noir was delightful.  Notes to follow on my visit later.

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