Introducing Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley isn’t simply a wine-producing region. Some of the biggest and most important names in Australian wine can be found here. Peter Lehmann, Grant Burge, Yalumba and Wolf Blass are household names while Penfold’s has entered the Australian language with its famous Grange, a byword for excellence and luxury.
The Barossa has played a significant part in the story of Australian wine achieving the loftiest of heights with an embarrassment of varietal riches in its expansive valleys. Since 1842, when German settlers began planting vines, this region has been producing wine, finding its feet with early success in port-style fortifieds and more recently sprouting wings and taking flight with Shiraz.
South Australia is also a tourist’s delight with both the state capital of Adelaide and the countryside boasting natural beauty and buildings of historical significance. The region is also a gourmands dream with many vineyards having established superior restaurants.
Where is Barossa Valley?
The Barossa is 70km from Adelaide in South Australia. The state capital is known as The City of Churches but there are many devotional lives being lived in wine growing country to the northeast. The Barossa Valley is part of the larger Barossa wine region with the Eden Valley.
Barossa Valley Climate
The Barossa, comprising of the Barossa and Eden Valleys, has both warm and cool climates (respectively) for growing grapes. As such the variety of high-quality wines being produced in this region is staggering. While Peter Lehmann, amongst others, has issued a Barossan-based Semillon challenge east to The Hunter Valley, Shiraz and Riesling lead the charge for this region.
The warmer climate suits Barossa Valley wines and the region is famed for growing superb Shiraz. The region’s signature wine is big, bold, blockbuster reds based on sumptuous Shiraz balanced with Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mataro (or Mourvèdre) or the en vogue Viognier amongst others. Barossa reds tend towards lots and lots of fruit. But the genius is in generosity without being gluttonous. Signature reds also carry lots of oak without leaving the feeling of being clobbered by a stave.
Unique Characteristics of Barossa Valley
Barossan Riesling has a hint of romanticism. Unlike the many successful French varietals in Australia, these Rhineland grapes were brought by Lutheran refugees from Germany fleeing the Prussian War. The Barossa has become one New World wine success story and is testament to the power of history in this region. It is in the cooler climates of Eden Valley that Reisling has been such a success. As young wine it is fresh, zesty and full of citrus. Given a little age the bite of the Riesling is somewhat blunted, leaving room for richer notes with hints of honey.
Wines to try from Barossa Valley
The region is known for growing most varieties of grapes: Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Semillon, Pinot Noir and the ubiquitous Chardonnay. Barossa Grenache is also growing in reputation, however, the most significant red and white varietals in the Barossa are Shiraz and Riesling.
The early German settlers planted their Rhineland cuttings. These early Rieslings were used to make port-style fortified wines. While this was important to the success of wine in the area Riesling is now favoured without fortification. The purity of Eden Valley white wines, particularly Riesling, has been essential in establishing this area as one of the great New World white producers. Landscape and climate are unmistakable in the purity of grapes and very present in the wine. There are Rieslings and then there are Eden Valley Rieslings.
Most of the regions big reds are Shiraz or Shiraz based. The warm climate on the valley floor loves Shiraz and the vines love it right back. In addition to the Mediterranean-style climate, the fertile soils covering alluvial sands make for beautiful landscapes and wine to match.
Must See Barossa Valley Wineries
Famed for blockbusters, Barossa Valley red wine is home to some of Australia’s A-list wineries. The region’s red carpet is packed with international stars and household names.
Chief among the offerings from this region is Penfold’s Grange, Australia’s flagship wine. In the pantheon of Australian premier cru, Grange is first amongst equals. With it’s cult status, international appeal and storied past it has everything the obsessive oenophile or collector could want. However, unlike its single-vineyard (or single plot) equivalents from Bordeaux, Grange is a product of the Barossa, using grapes from across the region.
While Grange is the standard bearer, there are few Australian wine brands with greater global recognition than Wolf Blass. In the UK, Wolf Blass is synonymous with Australia wine. Named after founder Wolfgang Blass, the Barossa-based label is the largest winery in the region and produces wine to suit every taste. Other notable names include:
- Saltram - Duval - Woods Crampton
- Neil McGuigan - Head - Langmeil
- Z Wines - Mitolo - Grant Burge
- Mum's Block - St Johns Road - Peter Lehmann
- Krondorf - Torbreck - Dorrien Estate
- Teusner - Stefano De Pieri - Dutschke
- McLean's Farm - Maverick Twins - Dolan Family Wines
Key Barossa Valley Wine Event
Barossa Vintage Festival
In 1947, the Barossa community decided to get together to celebrate the end of grape harvest and vintage. Now, the festival is known as the largest and longest running wine tourism event in Australia. With the ability to attract over 55,000 people each year, it is also South Australia's largest regional festival. The Barossan community festival features over 90 events showcasing arts, music, culture, community and the region's highly recognised food and wine. The festival runs over 5 days around the middle of April each year, be sure to immerse yourself into the beautiful and unique Barossan culture.
The future of the Barossa Valley Wine
South Australia is justifiably proud of the Barossa. The history of the region is as much a part of the national story as it is the local. But they are not all about looking back. The growers and makers of the Barossa look to the future just as their pioneering forbears did and it looks bright for the region.
Through innovation and a stubborn adherence to excellence, the wineries of the Barossa will continue to surprise and delight wine lovers at home and abroad. Loyal customers, some bordering on obsessive, have made the pilgrimage to this beautiful part of the world, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The region has responded with the savvy and high standards in accommodation and food that have made the Barossa one of the great Australian success stories.
- Barossa Valley