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Encompassing the watershed of the King River, this is an increasingly important grape growing region, albeit one of extremely varied terrain. The King River joins the Ovens River at Wangaratta and the King Valley region runs south through the Oxley Plains for 25 kilometres (16 miles) to Moyhu before entering a number of narrow valleys with steep, well-timbered hillsides in the foothills of the Alps. At its northern end is Milawa, which is at the lowest point of 155 metres (509 feet). At the southern end is the Whitlands plateau, at 800 metres (2624 feet), one of the highest wine grape growing areas in Australia. It is fertile country capable of producing high yields of good quality grapes across the full spectrum from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon. The region supplies grapes to an extraordinary number of leading wineries across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, a factor that has not helped in establishing its identity to the Australian public at large. The region ranges from basically flat in the north to mountainous in the extreme south. Owing to the abundance of suitable land, most of the vineyards have been established on relatively gentle slopes, typically north and north-east facing. The climate changes progressively and significantly from north to south, from lower northern elevations to higher southern elevations, with a progressive increase in rainfall and a decrease in heat summations. Thus, at Milawa the growing season rainfall is 329 mm (13 inches); at Myrrhee and Whitfield, halfway up the valley at an elevation of 320 metres (1050 feet), the rainfall has risen to 442 mm (17 inches) while at Whitlands it is 630 mm (25 inches). Ripening is progressively delayed; the style of wine changes, and at the highest altitude only the earlier ripening white varieties are suited to table wines. However, the climate is ideal for the production of fine sparkling wine base. In recent years considerable experimental development has been undertaken on a wide range of varieties including the Italian grapes Barbera, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Sangiovese, and other rarities such as Tannat, Saperavi, Petit Manseng, Pinot Grigio and Tempranillo. As one would expect, the soil types vary significantly throughout the valley, changing with altitude, slope and site characteristics. However, deep red clay loams abound, at times veering more to grey or brown in colour but having the same structure. Drainage is good, fertility high, and vigorous growth is encountered in virtually all sites. – Description from Wine Australia

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