Barossa Valley – vineyards and cellar doors
Explore the Barossa Valley wine region
Barossa viticulture encompasses a wide range of production models, from small and medium-sized family businesses that grow grapes for other companies to large-scale producers of bulk and premium wine.
In 2007, the Barossa’s total vineyard area amounted to 10,629ha of vines. That’s roughly 40 percent more than the planted area of either Coonawarra or McLaren Vale.
Soils up and down the valley vary from sandy alluvial river flats to clayey loams, with occasional ironstone and quartz gravels making their presence known.
The Barossa boasts some of the world’s oldest Shiraz vines, thanks to the absence of a vine-killing bug called phylloxera that decimated France’s Rhone Valley in the 19th century. But the region is famous for producing more than big bold reds. Fortified wines – known colloquially as Sherry, Port, Muscat, and Tokay – all vie with sweet, dessert-style wines and bottled-aged Rieslings for the mantle of ‘traditional Barossa.’
Industry records validate the Barossa’s longstanding love affair with red wine. Almost half its total vineyard area is planted to Shiraz. Another quarter comprises Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Merlot and Mourvedre. Chardonnay, Semillon, and Riesling hold sway among the whites, though no single variety goes close to the 10 percent mark.
Among the latter wines, Barossa Chardonnays – like their Semillon stable mates – tend to be sprinters rather than stayers; workhorses rather than thoroughbreds. Only Riesling and Viognier – less than one percent of the region’s vineyards - appear capable of achieving champion status. Even then, the best examples come from the cool, elevated slopes of the Eden Valley.
Henschke, Leo Buring, Orlando St Helga, Peter Lehmann and Pewsey Vale are the wunderkinds of the region’s celebrated Riesling producers. Only Yalumba’s marvellous Viognier, The Virgilius, offers a genuine quality alternative for consumers seeking additional weight and texture from their whites.
In years gone by, Barossa Valley Shiraz helped lay the foundations for the region’s reputation as a producer of rich fortified wines. Today, the traditional red variety provides the heart and soul of its most widely-acclaimed table wines. Occasional cross cultural marriages to Viognier are also proving highly successful.
From vine to glass
On international markets, the Barossa Valley brand is strongly associated with premium quality wines. In 2006-2007, export sales for wine labelled Barossa Valley exceeded $11.5m. Its top three destinations were the US, the UK, and Canada.
- Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)
- Barossa Valley (SA)
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