If you’re visiting Australia, take time to go wine-tasting in the vineyards at one or more of the Australian wine regions. Australia has about 60 wine regions scattered across the country. Australia’s first vineyards were planted in 1788 in a small area near the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Today you will find vineyards dotted over more than 60 wine regions totalling approximately 160,000 hectares. Current export figures place Australia as the fourth largest exporter of wine, selling to more than 100 countries around the world.
Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.
About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called ‘alternative varieties’ other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced.
Touring Australian wine regions is a marvellous way to explore the country, meet the locals and experience thier way of life. Tasting wines at the vineyard where they have been handcrafted is a unique experience. Most wineries are located near towns and cities and are easy to get to for tastings. Many have restaurants and/or attractive gardens for picnics and barbecues. Wine tours are available, but casual visitors are generally always welcome to taste and make purchases. All of the regions offer the visitor stunning scenery, recreational activities and fine Pacific Rim cuisine to complement their wines. You’ll also find that the vineyards have lots of rustic charm, and great hospitality. Cheers!
Most Popular Wine Regions
In New South Wales, the most notable of the Australian wine regions would be the Hunter Valley which is less than a half day’s drive from Sydney.
Sydney itself is developing its own wine region along the peripheries of the city and the wineries here would be among the closest to the city.
In South Australia, you cannot go wrong by barreling up to the vineyards and wineries of the Barossa Valley northeast of Adelaide.
Victoria’s main wine producing region is the Rutherglen/Milawa area in the northeast but smaller Victorian wine regions are at Yarra Valley, which is the closest to Melbourne, and those in the Mornington Peninsula and the Geelong area.
A distinctive advantage of Victoria’s wine regions is that all are within easy reach of Melbourne, particularly Yarra Valley with more than 70 wineries which lie just outside Melbourne’s greater city area.
Not to be outdone, Western Australia has its Margaret River wine region, and the wineries at Albany, Denmark, Frankland River, Mount Barker and Porongurup.
Enjoy pinot noirs, cabernets and medal-winning chardonnays in the scenic Coal River Valley, just a 10 minute drive from Hobart. Sample superb cool-climate wines at the cellar doors and taste fresh Tasmanian produce in vineyard restaurants. Soak up the water views and stop off at the historic village of Richmond before completing your idyllic day trip.