Part 2: Pat Tocaciu's love of Riesling

Cool climate plantings on the Limestone Coast

The Patrick of Coonawarra Rieslings that you enjoy today come from a passion for the variety across the Tocaciu family. It all started when Pat was working in the Eden valley, where he developed his love and passion for Riesling.  

As a young winemaker, he would spend time with his winemaking friends playing football and going for runs, talking about how to make great Riesling and how to ferment it. He did a lot of experimentation early on when the industry was young, when making fresh clean Rieslings was more difficult without today's modern techniques. 

With more medals than you can count under his belt and a passion that followed him to Coonawarra, Pat set out on the path to create his own winery and established the Patrick of Coonawarra brand in 1989. 

Pat invested in two areas for Riesling plantings, Wrattonbully (at the time an unknown area for vineyards) and a block in northern Coonawarra. Both are in the cool climate Limestone Coast, an excellent region for making superb Rieslings.

At the vineyard in Wrattonbully, Pat planted Riesling on a sandy block right on the top of a hill, similar to the soils that he had worked with in Eden valley. He developed the vineyard in 1998, which took a few years to establish with the sandy soil being quite low in nutrients. Pat made compost from the skins, seeds and waste organic material from the winery next door, and his son Luke spent a lot of time on a tractor spreading the compost around the vines. With the vines happily growing in the beautifully enriched soil, it took a few more years for them to get their roots down to the clay layer where the water is and grow up to the wire for harvest.  

2003 was the first vintage that the Tocaciu's harvested from the Wrattonbully block. Our first release of Riesling won a number of gold medals, despite being from such a young vines, proving to be an excellent choice to plant there. Riesling is unique for this area, ours being the only planting in Wrattonbully that is made and released as single variety wine. 

Pat then went on to purchase our second vineyard in Coonawarra in 2011. The vineyard is on an old quarry site, which had Riesling planted on the rocky, limestone soil in 2004. The free-draining soil is great for growing Riesling.

The main difference between these two vineyards is the soil and slight differences in the climate, resulting in some beautiful variation in Rieslings from the two blocks. The Wrattonbully Riesling has a lovely floral quality, with more apple blossom and rose petal character. The climate in Coonawarra is on average one degree cooler, with cooler nights, so the Riesling has more acid structure in the wine. It’s a more linear style of Riesling with more citrus, lime and lemon flavours. 


Look out for Part 3 coming in a few days to learn more about the different styles of Rieslings we create at Patrick of Coonawarra: our Two-Blocks RieslingAged RieslingBotrytis Riesling and newest Riesling, Méthode Skinny.

Spotlight on Riesling: Part 1, Part 3Part 4Michael Goodger's post.