Adelaide Hills
Rolling hills, lush Australian bush and a patchwork quilt of modest vineyards makes for one charming scene. Situated in the Mount Lofty Ranges at an altitude of 2300 feet, this is Australia’s premier cool-climate wine region. Ideally suited to early ripening varieties, zippy Sauvignon Blanc, crisp Chardonnay and aromatic Pinot Noir are the benchmarks.
Barossa Valley
This region has one of the richest cultural histories of any Australian wine region. Settled in the 1840s by English and German emigrants, some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world are now farmed by sixth-generation winemaking families. In the region’s warm continental climate these gnarled old vines enjoy ample sunshine, producing ripe fruit and rich wines of impressive concentration.
McLaren Vale
This region’s temperate maritime climate is created by its bordering hills to the east and ocean to the west. Warm days and cool nights create a perfect environment for maintaining great acid balance with rich, ripe fruit. Many varieties thrive here, but Rhone varietals (shiraz, grenache, mourvedre, marsanne and viognier) are the stand-outs.
Langhorne Creek
Cooling breezes off Lake Alexandria and southerlies rolling in from the nearby Southern Ocean temper this region’s warm summer days. Vineyards are planted on a natural flood plain, whose deep, fertile soils produce soft, rich, fruit-driven wines. Traditionally Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz have held court, though Chardonnay, Verdelho and Grenache have stepped up in recent times.
Yarra Valley
Dramatic rolling hills and steep valleys characterize this cool, inland region 32 miles east of Melbourne. The oldest wine-producing region in Victoria, grapes were first planted in the mid-1800’s in loam/clay based soils that have since proven ideal for the cultivation of elegant and seductive Pinot Noir. The topography is as varied as that of any wine region in Australia. It ranges from river flats or terraces through to some of the steepest slopes to be found in the country, equaled only by those of the Adelaide Hills. On the steeper slopes, aspect is of great importance, with north facing slopes strongly preferred. Pinot Noir takes pride of place simply because the Yarra Valley has achieved more with this difficult variety than any other wine region in Australia.