The climate of Leongatha is classified as Cool-Maritime. Rainfall is quite high by Australian standards at ~900mm. Rain is winter and spring dominant, but good downfalls are not uncommon in mid summer. The high rainfall allows dry-grown vines to flourish without the need for supplementary irrigation. It also provides a generally high humidity – perfect for preserving aroma compounds in developing fruit.
The Monthly Daily Mean Temperature of Leongatha places it about 0.6°C cooler than the Mornington Peninsula throughout the growing season. It follows a similar temperature curve to Dijon (Burgundy, France) but is cooler mid-summer and warmer in Autumn.
What does all this mean for viticulture in South Gippsland?
It means Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are ideally suited to South Gippsland and usually produce a fine-boned, fragrant and elegant style of wine. The mid-palate is often quite rich and acidity naturally high. Riesling is also ideally suited and can produce dry, linear and fragrant wines through to luscious botrytised dessert styles. Again, the high natural acidity is a key feature. Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer all present strong varietal wines. Shiraz is more limited in it’s suitability, but sites exist which consistently produce fragrant, spicey, savoury styles with great natural tannin structure. Cabernet Sauvignon is marginal on most sites, but there are a few excellent pockets where naturally high tannin and ripeness are achieved. These sites are usually extremely maritime (close to the ocean).