Australia is a relative newcomer to growing wine, only gaining a worldwide reputation in the past decade or so. In Australia, there are not wines that are named after regions, like Champagne. Any wine grape can be grown anywhere. The wines therefore are labeled with the name of the actual grape used. Certain regions are known to grow certain grapes well, however, and those are interesting to watch as wine making becomes more firmly rooted on this continent.
Over 95% of all Australian wines are grown in the ‘South-Eastern’ appellation. While there are over 800 wineries, four companies account for 80% of the wine produced here. Even so, the total output of the entire country of Australia is still less than what the Gallo winery in the US creates each year. The world of wine is very relative.
Located just north of Adelaide in the south-east region of Australia, this is one of the older areas for growing wine. North Adelaide was planted in 1837. The climate here is hot and dry, and produces great, traditional reds. Intriguingly, the valley was originally known as Barrossa with two Rs, but clerical errors led to the loss of one of the letters in the name.
This valley’s wineries are known for their Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Located just north of the Barossa Valley, the Clare Valley is the northernmost vine area in the South Australian appellation. It is hotter and drier than most other vineyards in Australia, and the low irrigation used creates very strongly flavored wines.
The Clare Valley makes good Riesling as well as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Located on the west coast of the southeastern leg of Australia, Coonawarra is the most southerly vine area in this South Australian appellation. This region creates delicious wines with its limestone subsoil and low heat.
Coonawarra is most well known for its Cabernet Sauvignon.
This region is on the eastern coast of Australia, near Sydney. Vines were first planted here in the 1820s. It was originally known for very strong flavored Shiraz, but recently newer wines such as Rosemount’s Reserve Chardonnay have brought new attention to this region.
The Hunter Valley is known for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
This region is barely south of Adelaide, and encompasses an area that has a variety of soil types. This allows a variety of grapes to grow, and for each grape to take on a range of flavors. It can produce full reds, fresh whites, and even dessert wines.
The McLaren Vale is known for its Sauvignon Blanc. It also creates Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.