Australia extends from the Indian Ocean in the west to the South Pacific in the east and from the tropics in the north to the cool south of Tasmania. Australia is only slightly smaller than mainland U.S. – Approximately 2400 miles from east to west and 1800 miles from north to south. It is one of the oldest and driest continents and has extremely diverse soils.
Australia is one of the world’s largest producers of wine. The industry was developed by a number of families in the 19th century. They include the patriarchs: Thomas Hardy, George
Brown, Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold, Dr. Henry John Lindeman, John Reynell and Joseph Seppelt. Today families like the Geber’s of Chateau Tanunda are imprinting their names in Australia’s viti-viniculture.
Australia has no indigenous grapes. The vine was introduced to Australia in the late 1700’s (first vine cuttings were brought by Captain Arthur Phillip in January 1788).
Harvest occurs in Australia’s wine belt (32 and 43 degrees south latitude) January through April. The vineyards of Europe are cooler, between 40 and 50 degrees north latitude. Western U.S. vineyards lie between 32 and 46 degrees and are more similar climatically to Australia’s.
AUSTRALIA WINE LAWS
- 85% of wine must be from stated grape and geographic area
- 95% of stated vintage
- If more than one variety or zone is specified, they are listed in descending order
- Enforced by the Wine and Brandy Corporation through the Label Integrity Programme (LIP)
- Only names of approved grape varieties may be used
- Broadest designation–South Eastern Australia, which includes 5 regions (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and sections of Queensland and South Australia)
Australia is divided into six states (New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania) and two territories (The Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory) all of which have wine growing regions.
SOUTH AUSTRALIA produces about 55% of total Australian wine production and is the most important winegrowing area in Australia. It’s the third largest state and the climate is Mediterranean – warm to hot in summer and cool in winter. The Barossa Valley, in South Australia is one of Australia’s most famous wine regions and has a strong German influence.
- Divided into sub-regions (Barossa Valley & Eden Valley)
- Barossa Valley warmer climate/ Eden Valley cooler climate (1,800 feet above sea level)
- 50 miles NE of Adelaide (The State Capital)
- History back to the 1840s (vines over 120 years old)
- SYNONYMOUS with Shiraz but now turning heads for Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet and Mediterranean varieties such as Grenache and Tempranillo
- James Halliday refers to the Barossa Valley as the “womb” of the Australian Wine Industry
- Phylloxera free
- The Napa Valley of Australia in terms of recognition and growing conditions
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