Written by: Abby Clark
Bookings of Australian wine tours have swelled in the past decade. In part on the strength of inexpensive and flavorful below-$10 wines with eye-catching labels, the Aussie wine industry surged in the mid/late 2000s, and Australian wine took the world by storm.
Australia’s most popular grape is the Shiraz, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Semillon. Wine connoisseurs will attest that select Australian vineyards, of which there are upwards of 2,000, produce some of the finer wines in the world.
Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_Valley_wine
In fact, The United Kingdom now imports more wine from the Aussies than from France, and Australia is the number 4 wine exporting country in the world. Australia is a large place, though! The majority of the country’s vineyards are found in the southern regions, but that covers a lot of territory. So, if you’re interested in taking an Australian wine tour, your best bet is to select a state, and begin researching wine regions and tours there.
Growing conditions in the south of Australia are said to be very similar to those found in Napa Valley, California (the North of Australia is much more tropical) and Australian vineyards span several states. Some of the country’s main wine-producing regions:
Australia’s most important state for wine production is South Australia, whose capital is Adelaide. South Australia accounts for 50% of Australia’s wine.Vineyards all across South Australia are known for producing inexpensive, tasty and popular table wines, and wineries close to Adelaide make wines that are considered among the country’s finest. Among these fine wine regions are:
Barossa Valley: One of the country’s oldest areas for fine wine; famous for its robust Shiraz. Most of Australia’s largest wineries are based here.
Clare Valley: North of the Barossa Valley, makes the country’s best Rieslings as well as great Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
McLaren Vale: South of Adelaide, with a mild climate due to the sea, this region is noted for its Shiraz, Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
Adelaide Hills: Conveniently situated, partially within Adelaide city limits (and nested between Barossa and McLaren Vale). Produces good Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Shiraz.
Limestone Coast: This unique zone along the coast of South Australia is an important area for fine wine – both red and white – thanks to the prevalence of limestone in the soil. It’s home to two famous wine regions:
Coonawarra: Famed ‘terra rossa’ roil and high quality underground water make Coonawarra Australia’s premier producer of Cabernet Sauvignon,
Padthaway: Noted for its white wines, particularly Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling.
New South Wales
New South Wales, with its capital city of Sydney, is Australia’s most populated state, and was the first to grow vines. It accounts for more than 30% of Australia’s wine. High-volume production of popular everyday wines is based in an area called The Riverina, located in New South Wales’ interior. Fine wine comes mainly from three areas:
Hunter Valley: Begins 80 miles north of Sydney. Semillon is it’s best wine.
Many boutique wineries, trendy restaurants, bed and breakfasts and arts and crafts shops line the streets of Hunter Valley. Its proximity to Sydney and charming small-town energy make it a tourist hot spot.
Mudgee: Much further inland, and an approximately 4 to 5 hour drive from Sydney, Mudgee is a beautiful interior area near the mountains. It specializes in reds, such as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but also makes Chardonnay. All of the wine produced here comes from independently-owned boutique vineries.
Orange: A cool, high-altitude area making distinctive Sauvignon Blanc and also good reds. One of the highest altitude regions in New South Wales, Orange’s identity as a wine region and a fine food region are inseparable from each other. Regarded as an exciting ‘new’ wine region, it has grown vines since 1980 and won several major awards for its Sauvignon Blanc.
Tasmania is a large island off the Southeastern coast of Australia. It enjoys a reputation as a leading producer of some of Australia’s premium wines, with its Pinot Noir, in particular, winning praise and numerous trophies.
The vineyards of Tasmania possibly produce more complex cool-climate wines than anywhere else in the world. It’s accepted wine wisdom that grapes grown in cooler climates accumulate flavor more slowly than warm climate wines (which ripen and burst with flavor quickly) and tend to be complex and balanced, with higher acidity and more mineral flavors—making them the most food-friendly wines in the world.
Tasmania has only one major wine region:
Pipers River/Tamar Valley: 35 kilometers northeast of Launceston, its rich red soils produce award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon. The countryside in Northern Tasmania is green and hilly with an English country village atmosphere.
About the author: Abby Clark is an enthusiastic adventurer who loves exploring popular as well as offbeat destinations around the world. Abby also writes blogs and guest blogs for Best Quote Travel Insurance—a company which offers visitors to Canada insurance for travel.