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 are grown in rows on a trellis and until the late 1990’s were 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 it’s colour and to complete the drying process.
When complete, the dried fruit would be put into sweat boxes, shallow wooden boxes which hold approx. 70 kgs. This would be the final on-farm opportunity for the dried berries to become even in their moisture content. The boxes were used to transport the fruit to be processed and packed. The more even in colour and texture the fruit, the better the grade and financial return.
For more information about growing sultanas in this area go to: http://www.driedfruitsaustralia.org.au/from-vine-to-plate