Good for the grape
great for the soul
Mount Benson is a unique coastal geographical indication situated approximately 300 kilometres from Adelaide and halfway between the historic townships of Kingston SE and Robe in the south east of South Australia. As part of the greater Limestone Coast wine region, Mount Benson is cousin to other well-known winegrowing regions including Coonawarra, Padthaway, Wrattonbully, Penola, Mount Gambier and Robe.
The region’s first grapes were planted in the 1980s by local farmers well attuned to Mount Benson’s unique and rugged climatic conditions. These grapes would later make way for the region’s own style of delicate, cool-climate, maritime-influenced wines which have already begun to make waves within a very competitive Australian wine industry.
Pass through the region and you begin to appreciate the lifestyle that the people lead here, grazing sheep, tending to crops and fishing for crayfish, intermittently broken up with a trip to the beach to relax the mind and soul. This is the sense of place we aim to convey in every bottle of wine we produce.
Welcome to the Mount Benson wine region.
The Mount Benson Vignerons Association was incorporated in 1997 to represent the Region’s rapidly expanding grape growing interests. The Mount Benson wine region is a region that is shaped by the passion and drive of youthful winemakers and viticulturalists. New ideas and great determination allow for the creation of exceptional wines that reflect the terrior on which the grapes are grown and the spirit of those that grow and make them.
A moderate maritime climate provides the biggest drawcard from a viticultural point of view. Cold and wet winters and long, cool and dry growing seasons are typical in the region. Strong winds prevailing from the South in spring and summer keep foliage dry and disease at bay. Winter frosts are also moderated by our coastal location, as are summer temperature extremes. It’s these favourable conditions which provide the foundation to an elegant and delicate style of wines.
Map Coordinates: 36.97°S, 139.72°E
Heat Degree Days (Oct-Apr): 1443.7
Average Annual Rainfall: 483.2mm
Growing Season Rainfall: 170.5mm
Mean January Maximum: 24.6°C
Relative Humidity (Oct-Apr, 3pm): 58%
Harvest: Late February – Early May
The Mount Benson vineyards are planted on gently undulating terrain ranging from five to 50 metres above sea level and attracted the interest of viticulturalists due to prevalent loam-based terra rossa soils that sit atop free-draining limestone, which formed over millions of years while the region was underwater. Shells and skeletal remains of marine animals deposited on the shallow sands of what is now the Limestone Coast, and under the ocean’s weight these remains fused together to eventually form a layer of soft limestone. Terra rossa soil, arguably the most famous vineyard soil in Australia, is produced as the limestone weathers and the clay contained in the rocks is left behind. Where this clay sits above the water table oxidation occurs, forming rust and giving the soil is characteristic red colour.
Mount Benson is a youthful region which has enjoyed an eventful history. Settled in the 1840s, the land at Mount Benson formed part of a cattle and sheep route between Adelaide and Portland and was used for many years to grow wool, wheat and wattle bark. Today the fairly unobtrusive peak of Mount Benson overlooks a landscape dominated by forestry, grazing and viticulture. The first viticultural trials occurred in the region in 1978, with Colin Kidd of Lindemans planting riesling, traminer, chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon at Alfalfa, an almond orchard located approximately five kilometres from the coastal township of Cape Jaffa. The first commercial plantings consisted of a 2- hectare block of cabernet sauvignon in 1989 by retired crayfisherman Bill Wehl and his wife Margaret, who recognised similarities between Mount Benson’s soil structure and that of the Coonawarra. Since then, a further nineteen vineyards have been established, spanning an area of approximately 600 hectares in total.