Wine Regions of Australia

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In the past 10 - 15 years, the Australian wine industry has boomed and is now one of the leading exporters in the world. A combination of tax incentives, growing confidence from continuously high sales and investment from overseas winemakers has put Australia at the top of the wine production hierarchy.

Western Australia

The region produces less than 5% of the country's output but the wines rank among the highest in terms of quality. They have a lightness and distinctly 'old world' character which distinguishes them from the traditional Australian 'fruit forward' style.

Margaret River is the most notable area for winemaking within this region. It enjoys lush vegetation and a climate that is far more conducive to grape cultivation than anywhere else in the country. Its reputation has been built on its Cabernet Sauvignon. Some excellent Shiraz, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc also make this an exciting wine region and the wines worthy of their premium prices.

South Australia

This is the winemaking hub of Australia. It is also home to all of the important wine research organisations. Within this region there are seven key areas:

1) Barossa Valley

This area is full of vines, as it is Australia's biggest quality wine district. Shiraz is the grape from which the most distinctive wines are produced in the region. Under the blistering sun the Shiraz grapes seem to reach their full ripening potential to produce high alcohol, spicy wines.Peter Lehman and Hewitson are good independent producers but there are more 'boutique' wineries emerging every year.

2) Eden Valley

This area only recently gained distinction from the Barossa Valley, thanks to family wine company Yalumba of Angaston, which began to mark it out as Riesling country in the 1960s. Rieslings grown high in the hills of the Eden Valley are remarkable for their beautiful floral and mineral aromas.

3) Clare Valley

Famed for its Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, the vineyards are at quite high altitude, resulting in the cool nights that are good for preserving the acidity levels in the grapes. Unlike the other areas of South Australia most of the producers in Clare Valley aren't associated with any of the big corporations - with the exception of Leasingham which is owned by Hardy's and Annie's Lane which is owned by Fosters.For Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz take a look at the wines of Jim Barry and Wendouree. For Riesling Jeffrey Grosset is worth a look.

4) McLaren Vale

McLaren Vale has a long history in Australian wine production, and is still home to Hardy's and the famous Amery vineyards. It is an area that produces some excellent Grenache wines, as well as the usual Shiraz and Cabernet.

5) Adelaide Hills

The Mount Lofty ranges in the Adelaide Hills are usually shrouded by cloud, which maintains the cool temperatures necessary to produce the zesty Sauvignon Blanc, bursting with the citrus flavours that the area is known for.The vineyards of Gumeracha, more southerly than Mount Lofty, are warmer and ideal for growing beautifully ripe Cabernet Sauvignon. In a similar geographical area, Mount Barker produces masterful Shiraz. Sparkling wines are also a feature of this region.

6) Limestone Coast

As the name suggests, this area has loamy soils that encourage vine cultivation. Combine this with a warm climate and conditions are good for successful winemaking. A wide variety of grapes are grown, including Riesling and Pinot Noir along with the 'usual suspects'! The majority of grapes from this area go into blends but those that don't make excellent fruit forward wines for early drinking.

7) Coonawarra

The soil of Coonawarra is remarkable, being vibrant red in colour. Below the bright top soil is a layer of free draining limestone, and below that is fresh water. This makes for fabulous growing conditions. Signature wines of the region are easy drinking Shiraz and juicy Cabernet.


The smallest state on the Australian mainland, Victoria is nonetheless important to the country's wine economy, not least due to its diverse vine growing conditions that range from the arid inland areas to the cool Macedon Ranges nearer the south coast. Muscat is the wine to try from this region. It is produced in the arid north eastern area of the state where the vines thrive in the relentless sun. They can be rich and sweet with raisin and caramel flavours.

Yarra Valley

The Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are both popular Yarra Valley wines but these grapes also produce some of the best sparkling wines of the continent. It is also the oldest wine producing region in Australia - dating back to 1837. A cool maritime climate ensures the sparkling wines have the necessary acidity. Moet & Chandon established Domaine Chandon here and do excellent work with classic varieties.
George Wroblewski is the owner of Smithfield Wine, an independent wine merchant based in Manchester, England.