Sultana Growing

Red Cliffs was established as a farm settlement, with sultanas predominately grown to be dried.  This was the main horticultural occupation of Red Cliffs up until the 1990’s, when the area shifted to producing wine due to a change in profitability.

The vines were grown in rows on a trellis and watered with 6 main irrigations on a rostered basis, through out the summer months (5 pre and 1 post harvest).  Depending on the growing season, the fruit would be ripe in mid February when it would be picked, dipped in a solution to hasten the drying and then put onto racks to dry.  With the heat of the sun, the moisture is removed through the fine cracks in the skin. When sufficiently dry, the racks are shaken, and the fruit put out on long sisalcraft and hessian sheets to even up and complete the process.

drying racks

The drying racks are prepared by placing a layer of hessian on the bottom tier, to catch any berries that fall off the bunches. © Elizabeth Janson

When complete, the dried fruit would be put into shallow wooden boxes which hold approx. 70 kgs.  These were used to transport the fruit to be processed and packed.

For more information about growing sultanas in Red Cliffs go to: http://www.oocities.org/elizatk/sultana.html

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