A WIN for white wine in the Saint Martin Heathcote Wine Show is proof of the region’s growing diversity, according to one local vintner.
And it will add extra interest to this year’s Heathcote Wine and Food Festival as thousands of people pour into town to taste the best the region has to offer.
Darryl Rathjen, of Hennings Vineyard, won gold in best wine other than Shiraz at this year’s show with his 2016 Hennings Viognier.
Like all white wines in Heathcote, Viognier has traditionally been overshadowed by red wine, particularly Shiraz.
Mr Rathjen said the win proved Heathcote wine producers were experimenting with their grapes.
“Shiraz put Heathcote on the map, but it’s great to see other varieties showing,” he said. “There’s definitely been a bit of a broadening in terms of diversity in the region.
“It’s a very special win and it’s particularly good for white wine.”
Hennings Vineyard opened in the 1860s when the first grapes were planted by Darryl’s great grandfather Henning Rathjen.
In the 1920s the vineyard was abandoned in favour of broad acre farming.
Mr Rathjen reinstated the vineyard in 1998, and his first vintage of Shiraz was produced in 2000. In 2005 he planted several rows of Viognier.
Judges at the Saint Martin Heathcote Wine Show have noted an increasing amount of non-red varieties.
Mr Rathjen said it was only natural, considering the excellent and diverse wine growing conditions in the area.
“I don’t think we’re moving away from Shiraz,” he said.
“But it is recognition that we can produce different grapes.”