Australia – The Wine Country
Australian wine regions are scattered around the coastline and across the inland south, but virtually every region of Australia makes wine. And with Australia’s wide diversity in landscape and climate, the varietals that are grown there are quite distinctive. Every single of the main wine regions in Australia is recognized for its own distinctive characteristics and styles, which often surprise enthusiasts with their differences. But perhaps the most famous of these is the semillon region in central Australia.
Semillon is probably best-known to American audiences as the producer of Champagne. In recent years, however, Australia has been growing a variety of red grapes used in the production of a wide variety of reds, such as red Muscat, rose of Sharon and even plums. It has long been a major grape producing area, and until recently the area was mainly self-sufficient, thanks to the arrival of large vineyards near the coast. Now, however, new growth strategies by local winery groups in Australia, which include several large companies and several small family operations, have led to an increased concentration of production capacity, allowing the production of more versatile, full-bodied reds such as semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon. The increasing demand for red wines from Europe as well as the United States and other markets has also played a part in the recent success of Australian wines. There is also evidence that in recent years the area of Australia has become a world leader in terms of exports of vineyards, many of which are focused on wine production rather than wine exports.
While the production is still primarily geared toward producing blush wines, the commercial success of this growing area means that there are now dozens of varietals and Chardonnay varieties available across the country. The most popular of these, of course, is the famous Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc varietal, with Chardonnay being the most popular of all Australian wine varieties. These two types of wine are very closely related, both historically and geographically, and one needs only to taste both to understand why they are so similar. Some of the most popular varieties of Australian wine, including pinot gris, rose of Sharon and semillon, are also found in France.
With its spectacular coastline, lush green landscape and rich, open hills and valleys, the Hunter Valley in Adelaide is a major source of grapes for both red and white verdelho and Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Because of its close proximity to the coastal region of Western Australia, which is considered to be one of the most advanced and technically advanced wine-producing regions in Australia, the Hunter Valley has developed into a major producer and exporter of sparkling wines, Chardonnay, red blends, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc. With over 30 wineries scattered throughout the valley, it is a wine lover’s haven.
The huon valley, located in Southern Australia, is another important wine producing region in Australia. It is famous for its exquisite cuisine, and its best vineyards produce red and white Merlot and blanc. Some of the best vineyards are located at Stradbroke Island, where the famous Skye Vineyard operates; at Emerald Island, where the historic Penrumbin Estate is located; and at Signal Mountain, where the world’s oldest varietal is still located. All these wineries provide award winning varietals.
The coastal region of South Australia’s Moreton Peninsula produces some of Australia’s most popular wine brands, including pinot grigio, rose of Shiraz and barons. The district is also known as the Glass House Mountains, because of its many wine caves and wineries. The most prominent wine cave is the Rabbit’s Head, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the most visited and best-known vineyards in the region is the Collie gold vineyard, established in 1920 by an English rugby player. Located near the town of Moreton, the Collie Gold Vineyard offers visitors the chance to taste Shiraz, pinot noir and other traditional varietals. Some of the other vineyards in this area include Bellingen, Beverly and Belair.