The world’s largest island, Australia has more than 2,400 wineries in 65 wine regions around the country. Wine tourism is well-developed offering a big range of cellar door experiences including barrel tastings, food and wine matching, wine blending, cooking classes and picnics in spectacular locations.
The vineyards are concentrated in the cooler coastal areas, mostly in the south-east corner of the country. Starting from the east coast, the state of New South Wales includes Hunter Vallley and Mudgee, two hours drive from Sydney. Victoria, with its vibrant city of Melbourne, includes the regions Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula, King Valley, Riverina and Murray Darling. Known as the heartland of Australian wine the state of South Australia, with its major city Adelaide, features several well-known regions including Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Clare Valley, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra. On the opposite side of the country in Western Australia, lies Margaret River and Swan Valley. And finally, the island of Tasmania off the south coast.
All the ‘international’ varieties! Shiraz (syrah) is the best-known black grape followed by Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot and Pinot Noir. And Australians love their red blends, particularly SGMs which comprise Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre. Most popular whites is unsurprisingly Chardonnay, thankfully these days less heavily oaked, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris. King Valley with its many immigrants of Italian heritage has seen varietals including Nebbiolo, Barbera and Fiano planted there.
Being a huge landmass there is obviously a wide variety of climates and soil types. Most of the areas where vineyards are planted have a Mediterranean climate. Those which are closer to and influenced by the cooling effect of the ocean are classed as Maritime., and Tasmania is the best example of this. New South Wales has a more tropical, hot & humid climate. Soils are hugely varied. As an example, just in South Australia they range from sandy loamy in Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale, slate in Clare Valley, clay loam in Barossa, and iron-rich, terra rossa of Coonawarra.