The vintner’s luck

ASPECT insights
The vintner’s luck
Landscape modelling maps the Adelaide Hills terroir   

In 2017 the ASPECT Studios Urban&Public team was called upon to solve an unusual problem. Adelaide Hills Wine Region is an organisation representing 52 wineries in the Adelaide Hills. One of the challenges for producers in this renowned wine country is the region’s scale and diversity in character and sub-regions.

Urban&Public were engaged to explore ways to help local wine makers talk to their local and international peers who are unfamiliar with the region. Through a process of digital mapping, they created an interactive visualisation platform offering an unrivalled way of exploring the local terrain, and understanding the nuances and characters of the region. The platform enables wine makers and cellar doors to tell the story of the terroir at conferences and wine tastings.

Terroir describes how the natural environment in which a wine is produced – its soil, topography and climate – imparts its characteristic flavours. The Adelaide Hills wine region is east of the city, in the Mount Lofty Ranges, stretching for 70 kilometres in a narrow band. Its highest vineyards are around 600-650 metres, in areas such as Crafers, Summertown, Piccadilly and Carey Gully. In mapping the region, the Urban&Public team found 9 sub regions: Northern Hills, Basket Range, Mount Bold/Onkaparinga Valley, Lenswood, Piccadilly Valley, Longwood, Bugle Ranges, Kuitpo and Macclesfield.

Ian Rooney, Urban&Public Director, explains. “The platform combines high resolution aerial imagery mapped onto 3D terrain models to tell the nuanced story of aspect, soil profiles, elevation and weather. Users can launch and interact with the terrain models and get a detailed understanding of the site and its relationship to the varied aspects impacting their vineyards at an intimate and regional scale. Once you understand that topography and where all these elements come together, you build a story of the character and prevailing elements that shape the land and whatever grows there.”

While the platform doesn’t specify which wine types are best suited to particular sub-regions or soil types, that kind of information could be overlayed in the future. For now, it’s the growers and vintners who get to impart their own specialist knowledge to tell those stories directly.