The lush, green Gippsland countryside is widely known as rolling dairy, sheep and cattle grazing country. The massive land area over 41,500 square km includes stunning beaches, old growth forests, lakes and wilderness. It is a region of boutique family producers, with vineyards located mainly in the southern and western pockets. Leading grape varieties include pinot noir, chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Wines from the south show cool climate finesse and elegance. Exceptional quality pinot noir from specialist producers like Bass Phillip are very highly regarded. Wines from the warmer western flats make more generous styles. They include spicy shiraz and medium bodied cabernet merlot blends. Gippsland sweeps down along the coast from the Victoria / New South Wales border stretching inland all the way to the Great Dividing Range. The vast wine zone includes windswept Phillip Island and Wilson’s Promontory, jutting out into Bass Strait. The district is yet to be classified into official regions, but can be thought of in terms of the south, east and west Gippsland. The large area naturally encompasses a diversity of climate and topography. On the whole, temperate conditions gain a significant cooling effect from coastal winds off the Southern Ocean. Rainfall is reliable and eastern areas can experience winter snow. Generally infertile soils range from black loams to lighter sands with underlying clay. The giant Gippsland earthworm is an endangered species that lives in deep burrows beneath the ground. It can reach up to 3 metres in length.