Located about 40 miles northeast of the city of Adelaide, Barossa, a 1,970 square kilometer region which encompasses the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, is South Australia’s best known wine region. It is famous for its opulent red wines--especially Shiraz. Other full-bodied reds such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache are produced, as are some wonderful premium white wines including Riesling, Semillon, and Chardonnay. Wine-making has been an industry in the region since 1842, and many of the vineyards and wineries that exist today are run by sixth-generation owner/producers. The oldest Shiraz vineyard is planted at Barossa's Langmeil Winery.
Barossa has two basic soil types; brown, loamy sand to clay loam and more sandy light-brownish-grey to dark-grey- brown soils. Both produce low yields of high quality grapes. The area is also characterized by large diurnal temperature variation (the variation in temperature that occurs from the highs of the day to the lows at night.)
Early settlers in the area first experimented by planting Riesling grapes on the warm valley floor. Distilling the Riesling to produce brandy brought about a period in which fortified wines of the region became extremely popular. Simultaneously, dark grapes, in particular Shiraz and Grenache, began to be planted at various altitudes, taking advantage of different micro climates.
Not until the 1980s did Australian Shiraz gain international recognition. In the late 20th century, several family wineries specializing in old vine Shiraz wines began marketing exceptional, full-bodied reds that have become the signature premium wines of the region. Barossa Shiraz is the most widely exported premium wine of Australia, representing more than a quarter of total international sales by value. About 75% of this region's Shiraz bottles are shipped to the U.S., the U.K., Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland.
For more on Barossa Shiraz, click here.
Photo courtesy of the Barossa Grape & Wine Association (www.barossa.com)