Wine is one of Australia's most important natural products. Nearly 30
million cases are exported all around the world every year (five million of
which find their way to US shores).
Vines have flourished in five of Australia's seven states for over 200
years. Australia has some of the oldest vines in the world. It is not
uncommon to find Shiraz vines, called Syrah in some parts of the world, over
100 years old. Many are on original rootstock because Australian vines were
not crippled by the phylloxera bug like those in California or Europe.
There are over 1000 wineries in 45 wine producing regions in Australia. Some
of the best known regions are:
The Hunter Valley in New South Wales (capital, Sydney) which has an unbroken
history of winemaking since 1825 and had the first quality Chardonnay
vineyards in Australia. The Riverina (NSW) has a warm climate and
specializes in Botrytis Semillon and late harvest varietals.
Within Victoria (capital, Melbourne) regions include the Pyrenees, Goulburn
Valley and the Yarra Valley. Vines were first planted in the Pyrenees in
1848. This area has picturesque rolling hills, rather than steep mountains,
with low yields and high demand for wines. The Goulburn Valley is well known
for red and white "Rhône" varietals with some of Australia's oldest vines
thriving on the valley floor. The Yarra Valley is Australia's foremost
producer of Pinot Noir and many sparkling wines.
South Australia (capital, Adelaide) is Australia's best known wine producing
state with a number of renowned regions. The Barossa is possibly Australia's
best known region. Coonawarra is renowned for its deep red soil and
world-class Cabernet. McLaren Vale has ocean views and hidden river valleys.
Within Western Australia (capital, Perth), Margaret River is a relatively
new region, but one of the most prized in all Australia; a cool climate
along the Indian Ocean known for Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and
Sauvignon Blanc. Pemberton is a richly timbered region focussing on the
varieties of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Tasmania (capital, Hobart) has several distinct regions, all predominantly
cool-climate, but sun is generous. This is Australia's premier sparkling
With its diverse climate, topography and soil characteristics, it is not
surprising that Australia produces every known wine style from delicate
sparkling wines to full bodied reds through to complex sweet fortified
wines. The most popular Australian varietals include:
Chardonnay, lean and elegant or rich and full, depending on the region or
the winemaker. Pears, citrus and honey are terms often used to describe
American's have yet to discover Semillon, Australia's favorite white wine.
It's used for blending, but on its own it can be a stand-out. Aged, it's
prized for nutty flavors and complexity. Young, it is tropical, aristocratic
and less oaky than Chardonnay. Semillon also produces excellent dessert
Shiraz is Australia's most popular red wine. It's a full bodied, deep red
wine that has a peppery aroma and spicy flavor.
Australian Cabernet Sauvignon isn't usually as tannic as the California
counterpart or as earthy as the French. Generally, it has more of a
berry-fruit component, a smoother finish.
Of course, Australia also makes luscious Merlot and distinctive Pinot Noir,
herbal Sauvignon Blanc and dry, spicy Riesling.
Because of their growing popularity, a good selection of Australian
wine - over 150 brands - can be found across the US.
The Australian Wine Bureau (AWB) in New York has additional information
about Australian wine or touring Australian wineries.
For more information see the AWB website:
phone (212) 351 6585 or email: