Welcome to the world-famous Barossa Valley
The Barossa Valley is one of Australia’s oldest wine regions and one of the most well-known the world over. Some of the biggest names in Australian wine come from here. Many wine followers know Penfold’s and its enduringly famous label, Grange. Grange is synonymous with luxury and excellence, and often given to mark a life milestone to be opened at a later date: a wedding, a first-born, an anniversary and so on. But there are other Barossa wineries that are household names in New Zealand: Wolf Blass, Yalumba, Peter Lehmann and Grant Burge to name a few.
German settlers arrive
Unlike other parts of Australia that were settled by the British, the Barossa was founded by German migrants. In 1842, they started planting the first vines. Eventually, the new region would go on to play a key role in the Australian wine story at the highest level.
Initially, port-style fortified wines found success. As Australia moved to the production of Table Wines in the mid-20th century, Barossa wines were regarded as inferior to regions like Coonawarra and Padthaway.
But by the late 20th century, boutique wineries began to earn critical acclaim for their wine, in particular, Barossa Shiraz. Big, bold, full-bodied, with rich fruit, chocolate and spice, Barossa Shiraz became an international hit. Shiraz would become the variety for which Australia is best-known.
Visiting The Barossa
The Barossa is in South Australia, around 70kms from the State Capital of Adelaide. It includes both the Barossa Valley and Eden Valleys. The region boasts a staggering 550 grape-growing families – many of whom are on to the sixth generation working their ancestral lands. It’s also a wine tourism paradise, with countless wineries and cellar doors, many of which have well-established restaurants with famous reputations.
Hot and Cool regions
With the Barossa and the Eden Valley side-by-side, this makes it one of the only regions in Australia to have neighbouring warm (Barossa) and cool (Eden) climates. The warmer Mediterranean-style climate on the Barossa valley floor, with its fertile soils over alluvial sands, loves Shiraz.
Eden Valley Riesling
Early German settlers planted Riesling cuttings from the Rhineland. The first Rieslings were used to make fortified wines. Today, Riesling is made without fortification. Eden Valley whites, especially Riesling, have helped established the region as one of the great New World white producers.
The Barossa is known for growing most other popular varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Semillon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The Barossa Vintage Festival
In 1947, the Barossa wine growing community celebrated the end of the harvest with a festival for the first time. Today, the Barossa Vintage Festival takes place every year in late April and is the country’s longest-running and largest wine tourism event. Each year, more than 55,000 make the pilgrimage. Local arts, culture, community, entertainment, food and wine are all celebrated over five full-on days. It’s the perfect indoctrination into what is ‘The Barossa’.