Far, far away from the French and Italian vineyards, there is a country that boasts of its own vineyards. This country Australia is a land with distinctive wine and mind-blowing sceneries.
Popularly referred to as the “Land Down Under”, this once-quiet city has become a major attraction for wine enthusiasts and general tourists alike. The allure of this country thus lies in the treasures therein. Thus, exploring wine regions in Australia, among others, is a must for anyone looking to travel the globe.
What the majority of Australian winemakers put in their bottles is almost exemplary in meeting the expectations of most consumers.
A great deal of fruit and opulence, supported by a well-balanced oak spice, characterize many wines.
In particular, the Shriaz varietals, from rootstock vines often over 100 years old and originating in South Australia, embody a style found nowhere else in the world.
In recent years, however, Australian winemakers have clearly been looking for more elegance. Never before have there been so many sparkling wines, fresh Chardonnays, mineral-dry Rieslings and elegant Pinots from Down Under. Even some Shiraz classics have become noticeably leaner.
In this article, we shall look into some of the treasures Down Under.
What makes the cultivation of the vast array of grape varieties that tourists see in Australia possible is a result of the varied landscape. The varieties you can find range from Chardonnay in Margaret River to Shiraz in the Barossa Valley.
And this makes Australia a treasure land filled with various flavors because its wine regions are very diverse.
Viticulture in Australia is concentrated on the southern coast of the country between Sydney in the east and Perth in the far west. The coastal hinterland is generally characterized by a Mediterranean warm and dry climate, making irrigation essential.
In the coastal area, under the influence of the cool Pacific Ocean due to the proximity of Antarctica, there are also terroirs with a distinct “cool climate”. Soil texture varies widely, consisting primarily of clay with varying amounts of limestone, gravel, sand or oxidized iron.
Some common and popular regions listed below.
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
Australia’s oldest wine region can be traced back to Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
Some of the greatest wines from Down Under and around the world come from the Hunter Valley – Australia’s oldest wine region, located about three hours north of Sydney. This terroir is well known for producing a very unique brand of white wine known as Semillon. Although Semillon is common to the French territory, it is also grown here. This picturesque region is also known for innovative winemakers and family-run wineries.
There are an exceptional number of winemakers here, with more than 80 wineries spread throughout the region. Guided tours give you the opportunity to meet the winemakers and taste the quality of their products. In addition, wine festivals, farmers’ markets and world-class restaurants offer the opportunity to indulge in culinary delights.
In addition to this distinctive white grape wine, Hunter Valley also boasts diverse continental cuisines. Thus making it a popular hotspot for both wine and culinary enthusiasts.
Autumn is the best time to visit this beautiful part of New South Wales. This is especially true between March and May. Photographers will love this time of year, as the area is aglow with vibrant colors just after the harvest. In addition, the temperatures are pleasantly mild and there is almost no rain.
Barossa Valley, South Australia
In South Australia, there is a wine region called Barossa Valley.
The Barossa Valley is undoubtedly the most famous wine region in Australia. It owes its international reputation mainly to the top selection of old Shiraz plots. Unlike the Rhône Valley, where phylloxera destroyed all the Syrah plantations at the end of the 19th century, the Barossa Valley was spared from phylloxera.
Because of the mild climate, there are still large areas of up to 150-year-old Shiraz vines that produce low yields of highly concentrated grapes.
In fact, 60 percent of all Australian wine comes from this famous wine region. The Barossa Valley is located about 70 kilometers northeast of Adelaide and covers about 10,000 hectares – 20,000 hectares if you include the Eden Valley, which is also part of the Barossa Valley.
To avoid confusion about which wine comes from which valley, there’s a simple rule of thumb: if it’s a Shiraz, it’s definitely from the Barossa Valley; if it’s a Riesling, Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, it’s almost always from the Eden Valley.
If you want to explore the Barossa Valley on your own and don’t feel like doing a lot of research, you can book one of the many wine tours through the valley.
Margaret River, Western Australia
The Margaret River region of Western Australia has everything a wine lover could want. There are stunning coastlines with spectacular surf spots that attract surfers from around the world every year. Secluded beaches are perfect for relaxing walks. More than 200 vineyards, award-winning wineries, gourmet restaurants and small chocolate factories tempt you to indulge in excessive calories.
Sitting pretty on the west coast of the nation is the region producing the globally renowned wines, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Considering how much acceptance these two wine brands received worldwide, it is no wonder that Margaret River immediately rose to prominence.
Furthermore, this region has, accompanying it, the Mediterranean climate of mild winters and sunny summers. And many experts argue that these conditions account for the production of such fine wines.
There are even some similarities to the world-famous French region of Bordeaux due to its coastal location and maritime climate. In fact, Margaret River sits on two oceans: The Indian Ocean to the north at Cape Naturaliste and the Southern Ocean to the south at Cape Leeuwin. As in Bordeaux, sea breezes cool the vines in summer and keep them pleasantly fresh. However, the vineyards in both areas are spoiled by sunlight – while the Atlantic gets 2,700 hours of sunshine a year, Western Australia gets 2,600.
Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon have given this region an impressive global reputation.
The Coonawarra, South Australia
The Coonawarra wine trail leads you through the Coonawarra region. It’s an iconic area famous for soil rich in terra rossa and the distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon.
Coonawarra lies about 420 km southeast of Adelaide and it is widely regarded as the best red wine region in Australia and is probably the only one that emphasizes the influence of “terroir” on its wines. The soil is composed of calcareous sandstone with a top layer of fertile soil called “Terra Rossa”.
The special soil, microclimate and topography of this area result in unique wines. The wines are extremely dark and have an intense, powerful taste.
On this trail and within the region, there are several wineries where you can taste popular wines. Also, you get to enjoy the picturesque views of the vineyards.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The Yarra Valley, one of Australia’s premier wine regions, is the jewel of Victoria. If you are familiar with wine brands, the name Pinot Noir should not be strange to you. And if you’ve ever wondered where it is produced, a short drive from Melbourne to Yarra Valley is the answer. Chardonnay is also produced in this region.
These popular wine names show that this region thrives in producing wines that exude uniqueness and elegance. And for those looking for an escape through entertainment, the valley’s closeness to Melbourne, a fun-packed city, makes this possible.
Picturesquely located just a day’s drive from Melbourne, the valley is filled with valleys, mountains, secret gardens and national parks, including waterfalls.
The Yarra Valley is mainly used for viticulture, especially cool climate wines, due to the unusually high rainfall and climatic conditions ranging from Mediterranean to continental. The soils of the region are extremely diverse, ranging from volcanic to sandy to deep loam.
There are now around 80 wineries in the Yarra Valley, most of which grow French grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon Chardonnay Shiraz Merlot and Riesling.
This beautiful piece of land can be visited all year round. In early fall (March) and late spring (November) the weather is particularly pleasant with little rain. In early March, the vineyards are full of ripe grapes and you can watch the grape harvest. This is also the time for the perfect grape harvest festivals.
Read further about wine regions in Australia here.
Aside from the wine terroirs you are sure to find in Australia, this country also offers other attractions to complete your tourism experience. And I’m pretty sure that you’ll be visiting one or several of the following on your wine trip to Australia.
Here we list some of the very well known. In our Australia section you’ll find many more detailed travel tips.
Sydney Opera House
If you find yourself in Australia, it is best you find your way to Sydney, probably the most visited city by tourists in the country. One of the reasons is because the legendary and iconic Sydney Opera House is located here and what better way to spice up your experience than this?
You are probably familiar with Sydney’s most famous landmark – the Opera House. Let’s see if you knew the following.
The unusual use of a series of gleaming white sail-shaped shells as the roof structure gives it a reputation as one of the most photographed buildings in the world.
It’s a versatile performing arts building that hosts symphony concerts, choral performances and popular music shows in its largest room, the 2,679-seat Concert Hall. Opera, dance, and ballet performances take place in the 1,500-seat Opera Theater.
There are also three theaters of varying sizes and equipment for plays, movies, and smaller musical performances. The forecourt at the southeast end of the complex is used for outdoor performances.
The building also houses restaurants and a professional recording studio. In 2007, the Opera House was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can simply decide to take a simple look around the iconic architecture or you could also choose to attend a live performance. Regardless of what you choose, the cultural experience you’re sure to have is beyond exceptional.
Special is as well to go out whale watching in Sydney! Read more about it in our travel tip here.
The Great Barrier Reef
One of the world’s most important natural wonders is located here in Australia. Thus, this article would be incomplete if we do not make mention of this. And it is none other than the Great Barrier Reef.
If you head to the waters of the Reef, it is not uncommon to find people diving or snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. So if you want to, you could join them or you could simply take in the eye-catching view.
But where is the famous coral reef? It is located in the South Pacific, northeast of Australia. More specifically, it runs almost parallel to the east coast of the Australian state of Queensland, from the Torres Strait between the northernmost part of Australia and Papua New Guinea to Lady Elliott Island.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. With a length of 2300 kilometers and a width between 60 and 250 kilometers, it is truly impressive. Not only is it the largest living organism on our planet, it is also the only one that can be seen from space – as a turquoise band off the coast of Australia.
There is (still) an incredible variety of animals, plants and other creatures. In the vast area of this huge reef live about 1625 different species of fish, as well as nearly 3000 different species of mollusks and a total of 133 different species of sharks and rays.
The Outback is the term used to describe the remote areas of Australia’s interior that are far from civilization.
It covers almost three-quarters of Australia’s land area and is found mainly in the Northern Territory and Western Australia, as well as parts of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
The outback encompasses a variety of landforms and climatic zones. In the west is the extremely arid outback, where rainfall can go on for years and summer temperatures can exceed 50 degrees Celsius. These areas are totally inaccessible.
In contrast, the Queensland outback consists partly of pristine tropical rainforest. Popular tourist attractions include the rainforests of the Top End, Kakadu National Park and the deserts of the Red Centre with Uluru-Kata-Tjuta National Park, which contains the famous Uluru monolith. This is a massive formation of sandstone sacred to Australian natives and it lies in the red center and is surrounded by the Outback. It serves as a testament to the raw beauty of the land.
Although the Australian outback covers most of the country, most people live along or near the coastline. As a result, it is sparsely populated. During your adventure in this region, you will be impressed by the many breathtaking natural beauties as well as the diverse flora and fauna.
The Outback is huge and it’s a great adventure if you go on a camping trip here. If you consider this, read our camping safety tips for the Outback.
And you shouldn’t stay hungry on that trip with our travel tip about campfire cooking in the Outback.
Australia has a lot of travel treasures to boast of, ranging from its impressive wine regions to other local attractions. So if you wish to explore the country and its treasures, pack your bags and get ready!