Grower Spotlight: Ricca Terra Farms

Welcome to another edition of Wine Chat Wednesday! As vintage approaches, we felt it was the perfect time to share with you the story behind our fruitful partnership with Ash Ratcliff and the team at Ricca Terra.

As you may know, up until 2020, Witches Falls primarily sourced grapes from the cool climate Granite Belt region in Queensland. However, as fate would have it, a severe drought in 2020 drastically impacted our usual harvest, leaving us with only 2% of our expected yield. It was a challenging time, but sometimes, challenges lead to remarkable discoveries.

Enter Ashley Ratcliff, a distinguished viticulturist and the man behind Ricca Terra Farms. Jon, the visionary behind Witches Falls, reached out to Ash for support, and Ash graciously agreed to supply us with his exceptional fruit. This collaboration proved to be a game-changer for Witches Falls, saving us from the hardships of the drought and opening up a world of new possibilities.

Ash's commitment to viticulture and his passion for experimenting with alternative grape varieties has brought a fresh and exciting dimension to our winemaking. The Riverland region, home to Ricca Terra Farms, boasts a warm climate that contrasts sharply with the cool climate of the Granite Belt. This difference allows us to showcase the diverse impact climate can have on wine, creating a richer experience for our guests.

Ricca Terra Farms, situated in Barmera, South Australia, encompasses ten distinct vineyards sprawled across 70 hectares of land. With origins dating back to soldiers returning from the first and second World Wars, these vineyards hold a rich historical legacy, contributing a unique charm to Ricca Terra.

In the arid and warm conditions of Barmera, irrigation from the Murray River sustains the vineyards. Ash's innovative strategy embraces Mediterranean grape varieties such as Nero d'Avola, Montepulciano, Tinta Barroca, and Vermentino. Through the implementation of drought-resistant rootstocks, water-saving mulches, and advanced viticultural techniques and technology, Ricca Terra practices sustainable farming methods with minimal environmental footprint.

Ash Ratcliff's journey to establishing his own vineyard reflects his dedication to exploring obscure alternative varieties suitable for the Riverland region. Fiano, Arinto, Nero d'Avola, Negroamaro, and Tinta Barocca are just a few examples of the treasures growing in the sun-soaked vineyards of Ricca Terra.

Ash not only stands as a pivotal figure in Australian viticulture but also emerges as a driving force shaping the industry's future. His visionary goal is to establish a vineyard that seamlessly integrates climatic conditions with grape varieties, promoting sustainability, and producing exceptional wines.

Our partnership with Ricca Terra Farms extends beyond grapes; it embodies shared values, innovation, and a dedication to crafting extraordinary wines. With the anticipation of the 2024 vintage building, the excitement at Witches Falls is reaching a crescendo. Last week, our winemakers Jon, Al, and Hannah visited Ricca Terra Farms to reconnect with Ash and his skilled team, and check on the progress of our grapes. Their verdict? Phenomenal.

The vineyards are brimming with promise, and there's a buzz in the air as we anticipate the early harvest of some of our white grapes as soon as this week. This visit has intensified our anticipation for vintage, igniting our excitement further. We're eager to unveil the exquisite wines that will emerge from this collaboration, and we can't wait to share the fruits of our labour with you. 

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