The Crayères vineyard is in the Wrattonbully GI, located just north of Coonawarra and south of Padthaway.
The Australian Geographical Indication (GI) “Wrattonbully” was entered in the Register of Protected Names on 5 July 2005 – (see map below for boundaries of Wrattonbully GI), and is contained within the much larger Limestone Coast GI (which was entered in the Register of Protected Names on 27 December 1996).
As such, Wrattonbully is considered as a fairly new wine region of Australia. However, the first plantings in Wrattonbully date back to 1969, when 11 hectares were planted by the Penders, including 4 hectares of Shiraz, 4 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and 4 hectares of Chardonnay. This was followed by John Greenshields, with his Koppamurra Vineyard in 1974, where he planted 4 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon. This vineyard has since been bought by Tapanappa and re-named the Whalebone Vineyard, and is situated just across the road from the Terre à Terre vineyard.
Wrattonbully has increased significantly in size since its early plantings and now comprises around 2,600 hectares of vineyards, most of which is Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Wrattonbully terroir is very similar to the Coonawarra terroir in that it has limestone ridges covered by terra rossa soils. However, the vineyards in Wrattonbully are located east of the Kanawinka Fault, and are more elevated than the coastal plains vineyards, as well as being on much older limestone and much older soil sediments (35 million years-old vs. 800,000 years-old for Coonwarra). The climate in Wrattonbully is very similar to Bordeaux with heat summations of 1,350 degree days during the growing season.
Geology and Soil
The Crayères 8-hectare vineyard block was purchased in 2004. It sits on the crest of a north-south 35-million year-old Oligocene limestone ridge covered by terra rossa soil. On its eastern flank, a layer of Bridgewater eolian sands covers the ancient terra rossa soil. While ripping the vineyard block before planting, the entrance to a limestone cave network was discovered. Hence we have given the vineyard the name of Crayères (Crayères, from craie – limestone in French – is the local name of the underground network of caves that are found in the Champagne wine region). The Crayères cave contains the undisturbed fossilised remains of ancient megafauna that are unique in the world and which will be the subject of extensive research in the near future.
We are in the process of collecting long-term data in the vineyard. The neighbouring data from the Whalebone Vineyard show the following trends:
(all in °C)
Long Term Avg
Avg (2004- 2012)
The 2-hectare Sauvignon Blanc block was planted in 2004 on sandy loam over terra rossa soil, on the crest of a north-south oriented 35-million year old limestone ridge in the heart of the Wrattonbully wine region. A further 1 hectare of Sauvignon Blanc was planted in 2013.
French clones were used, grafted onto 101-14 rootstocks. The vines were planted at a density of 4,444 vines per hectare, 1.5m x 1.5m, making it the closest spaced Sauvignon Blanc vineyard in Australia.
The fruiting wire is only 50cm above ground, earning the vines the nickname of the “low vines” amongst the local winemaking community.
The 3-hectare Cabernet Sauvignon block was planted in 2004 using the same layout as the Sauvignon Blanc ( at 4,444 vines per hectare). Australian clones were used (CW44 and Reynella). The Cabernet Sauvignon vines are planted on the western flank of the Terre à Terre vineyard, where the soil is pure terra rossa over 35-million year old limestone rocks.
The 1-hectare Cabernet Franc block was planted in 2008, alongside the Cabernet Sauvignon.The vineyard was planted with cuttings from the Whalebone vineyard and also some French clones, all grafted on to rootstocks. The Cabernet Franc was planted at a density of 4,444 vines per hectare.
The 1-hectare Shiraz block was similarly planted in 2008, alongside the Cabernet Franc. The block was planted with grafted cuttings from recent clonal selection material made by the Yalumba nursery from cuttings retrieved from old Barrossa and Eden Valley vineyards. The density is 4,444 vines per hectare.
Due to the very narrow row width (1.5m), special equipment directly imported from France is used in the vineyard.
The vines are hand pruned in August every year. The vines are cane pruned (2 canes and 2 spurs) and the trellis design is classic Vertical Shoot Positioning. The number of buds per cane and per vine retained at pruning is determined every year based on vine vigour the previous season in order to achieve optimal bunch exposure.
Whilst the Crayères vineyard is not certified organic, very low levels of chemicals are used in the vineyard (Sulfur and Copper).
Hand thinning of bunches and/or leaves are done as required to keep the crop at a reasonable level, and make sure that the canopy remains open.
The grapes are hand harvested and the fruit transported overnight to the Tiers winery in the Piccadilly valley for processing.