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Initially known as the Central Highlands, the Orange region, centred on the slopes of Mount Canobolas, has long been an important orchard area producing apples, pears and cherries. An experimental viticultural station was established at nearby Molong in the 1940’s, but vines were first planted commercially in 1980. Due to restricted opportunities for irrigation, major vineyard development has slowed since 2000 and much effort is now being put into raising the profile of the region on the national and international stage. The region is home to many small premium operators. The climate is strongly influenced by and largely dependent on elevation. Overall, mild to warm midsummer mean temperatures, seldom rising above 32°C (90°F), are offset by cool to very cool nights during the growing season. The rainfall predominates in winter and spring while the three driest months are February, March and April, making supplementary irrigation highly desirable. Wind is both friend and foe. On the one hand it helps to reduce the major climatic threat of spring frosts, thus making a north-easterly site exposure desirable but on the other hand, interferes with fruit set on sensitive varieties such as Merlot. Other than spring frosts and climatic aberrations such as light snow in December, the major threat is from birds, relishing the extension of their diet. The undulating countryside is not only very attractive but is of fundamental importance in determining site selection. The soils vary widely, reflecting the different geological strata of the parent rock but falling into four main groups. The first are the well drained, friable, deep red brown clays derived from basalt that are found near Mount Canobolas. Second are the deep red-brown, yellow-brown clay loams of mixed origin including volcanic ash. Both these two soil groups promote considerable vigour. The third is a red/brown podzolic clay loam of medium vigour overlying a medium clay and shale base interspersed with gravel, which assists with drainage. Finally, there are patches of terra rossa associated with visible limestone at the lower elevations. – Description from Wine Australia

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