Hastings River

Hastings River has a history of viticulture and winemaking that dates back to 1837.  Like many other Australian wine regions in the early 1900s, disease and competitive pressures lead to a halt in production of wine in the Hastings Valley. 

In 1980, after 60 years of dormancy, the Cassegrain family decided to reinvigorate the area as a wine region.  Improbable though it seemed at the time, the family pioneered new varieties and new ways of managing vineyards.

This indirectly encouraged the development of other vineyards and wineries along the northern coast of New South Wales. With its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, Hastings River is certainly the place to taste amazing seafood, paired with intense white varieties. The Ellenborough Falls, a world-heritage, sub-tropical rainforest is a must see when visiting this region. The main wine styles produced in the region include Chardonnay, Semillon, Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot and Chambourcin.

31° 27'S
Latitude
70m
Altitude
1080mm
Growing season rainfall

Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot

This is a very successful blend in the Hasting River. The resulting wines are soft and quite fleshy, with abundant berry and earth flavours. Merlot, too, can be successfully made as a single varietal, though it is sometimes seen as a cross-regional blend.  

Chambourcin

Intensely purple in colour, the flavour of Chambourcin is pronounced.  In its youth, it falls into the black cherry and plum range with occasional slight spicy and gamey overlays.  As a young, fresh wine it is among the best examples of hybrids produced anywhere in the world.  

Chardonnay

Chardonnay dominates plantings in the Hastings River and does well.  The style is not unlike that of the Hunter: rich and generous in the peach and tropical fruit spectrum.  It lends itself to manipulation in the winery and to the use of oak to add complexity and depth.  As might be expected, it matures relatively quickly but the wines from drier vintages can hold their peak for several years.  

Semillon

The thin skins and large berries of Semillon are especially vulnerable to the effects of vintage rain.  As in the Hunter, the saving grace is the unusual ability of the Semillon to produce excellent wine at lower than usual sugar (and hence alcohol) levels of around 10 degrees Baumé. Thus early picking is important to ensure a high quality wine.

Top varieties grown in Hastings River
Climate
  • The vineyards of the Hastings River are the only significant new plantings in Australia in the past 30 years not to have been supplemented with irrigation. The region combines high summer humidity and high rainfall, as well as being uncompromisingly warm. It is affected by the tail end of tropical cyclones moving down the coast from Queensland, and by its proximity to the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.  
  • The best vintages are the driest; those in which the late summer rains are below average.  However, even in these circumstances the successful outcome of the vintage is dependent on split-second timing of the harvest and very careful management of the canopy.  The only assured solution has been the propagation of the French-bred hybrid Chambourcin, which is resistant to the mildews that otherwise pose a constant threat. 
Soil
  • The gently hilly terrain offers a wide choice of aspect that, along with the prevailing winds, are helpful in assisting disease control.  The soils vary greatly in fertility, depth and drainage capacity, spanning rich free-draining alluvial and red volcanic soils, and running from sandy through to heavy, water-resistant yellow clay; some are deep, while others overlie gravel or limestone.