The Adelaide Hills area is considered to be the gruner capital of the southern hemisphere.
WINESTATE in conjunction with the Austrian Wine Marketing Board recently conducted the inaugural Global Gruner Challenge open to gruner veltliner producers from around the world.
Gruner veltliner is a native Austrian white grape variety that is the “lead” superstar in Austria’s resurgence in the global wine industry. It accounts for one-third of all vines planted in Austria.
While many Australian wine drinkers may not have heard of gruner veltliner, the Hills are alive with the excitement of this Austrian superstar as it undergoes a meteoric rise in the Adelaide Hills.
Since its humble Australian beginnings when the first vintage was released in 2009, gruner has blossomed to become the fastest rising emerging variety in the country, with 44 wineries producing this exciting white variety – four in Canberra, three in Tumbarumba, New South Wales (the uber cool region in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains), two in Victoria, three in Tasmania, two in Queensland’s Granite Belt and 30 in the Adelaide Hills.
I know that it doesn’t sound that impressive but consider how long it takes most other emerging varieties to amass that many growers across the country, even without being constrained to cooler climates the way that gruner veltliner is. Some varieties that have been around for decades still don’t have that many producers, while gruner has done it in less than a decade. In vinous terms that is approaching the speed of light.
Gruner veltliner is a variety best suited to cool climate regions such as those of Austria and the Adelaide Hills. In the vineyard it ripens midseason, achieving a good level of physiological ripeness. Without due care in the vineyard it can be a heavy cropper as it used to be in Austria in the first half of last century.
Depending on the clone involved, gruner produces bunches of small to quite large yellow-green berries and is very susceptible to downy and powdery mildew as well as rust mites. While vineyard site and soil type experimentation is on-going in Australia (as it is still early days for the variety), the Austrians with their lengthy experience believe that it
performs best in soils with high loess content as well as in certain sites with loam or a mixture of both. Loess is predominantly the silt-sized sediment accumulated from wind action.
In Austria gruner veltliner is divided into two classifications – Klassik and Reserve…