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The history of wine in Australia started in 1788, when the first British settlers arrived at Botany Bay bringing with them the first vines. Although this first attempt failed, their efforts finally paid off and in 1820 the first Australian wine was produced.

Since then, Australia has become one of the major players of the wine industry, producing wines from the main international varieties in unique and new styles. Shiraz is the most planted grape variety, followed by Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, and has become the grape most closely associated with this country. However nothing expresses the personality of Australian wine better than Sémillon, producing wines in a unique style that can only be found in this country. 

Due to its location, most Australian wine producing regions are either warm or hot. Fires and droughts are the most important threats and climate change is already accentuating the severity and periodicity of those hazards. Many Australian producers are seeking higher altitude locations or cooler places for vine planting in an attempt to counteract the temperature increase and most wineries are increasing their efforts to become sustainable and reduce their carbon footprint. 

The most important Australian regions are:

South Australia


New South Wales

Western Australia


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South Australia: Where Shiraz is king

This Australian state is where the majority of wine is produced. As most of this state has an arid climate and is covered by the Great Australian Desert, viticulture is restrained to the southeastern part, which enjoys a mediterranean climate. Almost all Australian main grape varieties, from Riesling to Cabernet Sauvignon, can be found here, as well as the oldest Shiraz vines. The main regions of this state are:

✾ McLaren Vale: Situated on the coast, just south of the city of Adelaide, vines in this region are planted on the hills surrounding the city of McLaren Vale. The ocean breezes have a cooling effect on the warm climate of this region and the proximity to the Antarctic Ocean means that it rarely experiences frost or drought. Shiraz is, by far, the most important variety, accounting for 50% of the vines planted. Other important varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Grenache.

✾ Barossa Valley: Located north of Adelaide, the capital of South Australia, Barossa Valley hosts some of the oldest vines of Shiraz of Australia and has built a reputation as a centre of premium wine production. The shiraz wines from Barossa tend to be full bodied, with soft tanins, concentrated ripe black fruits flavours and hints of chocolate and spices. Other important varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache and Semillon, which has evolved to develop its own unique pink-skinned clone, different from the Bordeaux or the Hunter Valley clones, usually made into a fresh, unoaked style.

✾ Eden Valley: Located east of Barossa Valley, on the Mount Lofty Range, its higher altitude gives this region a cool to moderate climate. The most important grape variety here is Riesling, displaying usually pronounced citrus aromas (lime, grapefruit) and a steely character. The best examples are able to age in bottle for years, gaining preserved fruit and toasty flavours. Other important grape varieties are Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon.

✾ Clare Valley: One of Australia’s oldest wine regions, Clare Valley has also built its reputation around Riesling. In spite of being located north of Barossa and Eden Valley, its warm climate is tempered by the cooling influence of sea breezes and altitude. Some vineyards are planted up to 750 metres of altitude. Nights here tend to be cold, creating the necessary conditions for the correct ripening of this variety. Other relevant varieties are Shiraz, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The best red wines can age for years in bottle.

✾ Adelaide Hills: South of Barossa and Eden Valley and east of the city of Adelaide, this region enjoys a moderate climate due to its altitude and oceanic influence. Vines are planted on average at 400 metres of altitude. Irrigation is necessary, as soils have a limited water-holding capacity and rainfalls concentrate outside of the growing season, in winter. The main grape varieties are Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc, producing wines with a refreshing acidity as well as citrus and stone fruit flavours (peach, apricot). Pinot Noir is also planted and, together with Chardonnay, is used for the production of sparkling wine.

Coonawarra: A narrow strip of land 15 kilometres long and only 1,5 kilometres wide located just in the border with the state of Victoria, the soil of this region is composed of fertile Terra Rossa over a limestone subsoil. Skies in this region tend to be cloudy, offering a moderate influence on the climate. Cabernet Sauvignon is the most important grape variety, followed by Shiraz, Merlot and Chardonnay. 

Victoria: a land of Pinot Noir and Sparkling wine

The state of Victoria hosts, together with Tasmania, the coolest wine regions of Australia. This is due to its situation, further away from the Equator than other regions, as well as to the influence of the Antarctic ocean in the case of the regions closer to the sea, around Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. Further inland, is altitude what plays a key role as a cooling influence thanks to the Great Dividing Range, the highest of the continent. All this combined gives the wines of Victoria a distinctive personality, fresher and lighter in style than wines from hotter Australian regions.

The main regions are:

✾ Yarra Valley: Northeast of Melbourne and at the southern slopes of the Great Dividing Range, this region has a cool to moderate climate. It is one of the best regions of Australia for the production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as for the elaboration of sparkling wine, using the traditional method. The sparkling wine from Yarra Valley is considered the best in Australia. The lands situated at a lower altitude allows also for the successful ripening of varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The wines from these 2 varieties are usually lighter in body than their counterparts from warmer regions.

✾ Rutherglen: This warm region on the shores of the Murray river is well known for its still wines from Shiraz and its production of sweet fortified Muscat wines. For its production, grapes are picked when they are ripe and healthy and fermentation is stopped by fortification when the wine has only reached 2% of alcohol. These wines undergo a process of oxidative ageing for years in old wood, becoming amber and, finally, brown, as time goes by. For a luscious style, winemakers allow some raising to happen before harvesting the grapes.

✾ Macedon Ranges: The granite based soils of this area north of Melbourne and its lower altitude compared to Yarra Valley offer one of the best spots in Victoria for the planting of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some Shiraz wines produced in this area have achieved cult status due to its strong fruity and spicy character as well as its softer tannins compared with other Shiraz wines from Australia.

✾ Goulburn Valley: East of Heathcote, Goulburn is a warm climate region well known for its wines from Shiraz. It’s the oldest continuously producing wine region in Victoria and its first records of Shiraz plantings dates back to 1860. However, Marsanne might be considered the signature grape here, displaying citrus fruit aromas when young and developing honey notes with bottle ageing.

✾ Heathcote: Being in the centre of Victoria, and further away from the sea than the previous regions, here altitude is key as a cooling influence. Shiraz is the most relevant variety planted and tends to display fresher fruit aromas and be more structured than the ones produced in warmer regions of the country. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon follow it by the number of hectares planted. Some producers have started to experiment with the planting of other varieties, such as Tempranillo and Sangiovese, with promising results.

✾ Mornington Peninsula: This region, located south of Melbourne and surrounded by the sea, is also well known for its vineyards of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. There are important differences in quality and style among vintages depending on the weather that year at flowering or harvest, as it might be cool, wet and windy at those times. Pinot Noir usually displays a fruitier style than other regions while the cool growing conditions usually results in high acidity levels in Chardonnay wines, usually softened by malolactic fermentation. Pinot Gris is also an important variety of this region.

✾  Geelong: Southwest of Melbourne, between the Port Phillip bay and the Bass strait, the climate of this region is very similar to the one at Mornington Peninsula and also present important differences between vintages depending on the climate at flowering and harvesting. Pinot Noir is also the signature grape of this region, usually displaying characteristic earthy flavours, and is used together with Chardonnay for the production of sparkling wine. Shiraz is the second red variety most planted and the wines from this variety tend to be fresh and peppery.


 The signature grape variety of Australia might be Shiraz but the hidden gem of Australian wine can be attributed to Sémillon, hence my name. This french grape variety that can be used for the elaboration of sweet wines like Sauternes it’s made here in a complete and unique style. Dry wines from Hunter Valley Sémillon can be made to age for years in bottle gaining an amazing complexity and aromas of almond, white pepper and dry nuts.

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New South Wales: Semillon at its best 

The first vines of the continent were planted in New South Wales shortly after the arrival of the first settlers at Botany Bay, making it the birthplace of wine production in the whole continent. The majority of wine production takes place in the Murray-Darling basin, in regions like Riverina or Murray-Darling. However, the most iconic wine production region is Hunter Valley, located on the Great Dividing Range and well known for the unique style of its Semillon wines.

The main regions are:

Hunter Valley: The most internationally recognised wine region of New South Wales, this region has a hot and humid climate. However, the ocean breezes and high cloud coverage  have an important cooling effect during summer, creating ideal conditions for the growing of Semillon. Rains can be important during the growing and harvest season, so canopy management is paramount to minimise rot. Young wines from Semillon tend to be light bodied, with high acidity, low alcohol and rather neutral aromas. However, with bottle ageing, it gains an amazing complexity and displays aromas of toast, honey and nuts. Chardonnay is also produced, both in oaked and unoaked wine styles. The most important black variety is Shiraz, usually showing black fruit aromas of black cherry and black plum as well as medium body, soft tannins and earthy notes. 

Riverina: Home of some of Australia’s bigger producers, like Yellow Tail, this region can produce high yields of healthy wines with less concentrated flavours and aromas than the wines from other Australian regions. Approximatively 60% of the grapes produced in New South Wales and 25% of the grapes produced in the whole country come from this region. This flat region relies heavily on irrigation and the Murrumbridgee irrigation scheme inaugurated in 1912 has been an important milestone for the development of this area.

Western Australia: Crossing the Nullarbor

This state, which encompasses roughly one third of Australia, is also one of the most arid and less populated. 79% of the population lives in the Perth area, at the southwestern corner of the state. Viticulture is also concentrated in this area due to its Mediterranean climate. Although it produces only 5% of the wine by volume, its prestige as a source of high quality wine has put the region on the map for the wine industry. The most important regions are:

The main regions are:

Margaret River: Surrounded by the sea from the north, south and west, this region produces around 20% of Australia’s premium wine. Although rainfall is higher than other Australian regions, it falls mainly in the winter. The most important varieties are Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot for reds and Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Chardonnay for whites. Chardonnay tends to be made in an oaked style to add complexity and Sauvignon blanc and Semillon are usually blended together resulting in wines with high acidity and attractive gooseberry and tropical fruit flavours.

✾ Great Southern: The largest Western Australia’s wine region, it is located further south, on the shores of the Antarctic ocean. It’s cooler than Margaret River and experiences considerably less rainfall. The main varieties planted here are Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. The most renowned wines are the ones produced in the subregions of Mount Baker and Frankland.

Tasmania: The land down under

Tasmania is an island separated from Australia by the Bass Strait. The oceanic influence means that temperatures tend to vary less throughout the year.

Due to its latitude, further away from the Equator, as well as the cooling influence of westerly winds from the ocean, cool climate varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris constitute the majority of the plantings. Sparkling wine is also produced, from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Global warming has increased the hectares where vines can be successfully planted and varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Shiraz are finding increasingly better conditions for its correct growing and ripening, boosting wine production from these grapes in the region.