Barossa Valley - wines and vines facts

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Barossa Valley, South Australia

Barossa Valley, South Australia

Vines in the Barossa Valley in South Australia
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Barossa Valley, South Australia
Barossa Valley, South Australia

Location

The Barossa Valley is located approximately 75km northeast of Adelaide in the historic wine state of South Australia. By car or bus, it is a little over an hour’s drive from the Adelaide CBD. Access by the Sturt Highway is the most direct method for travellers.

For those wanting a more scenic route, a journey through the Adelaide Hills to Chain of Ponds and beyond is a better option. The Barossa’s best known vineyards are still less than two hours away.

The Barossa Valley is one of three premium wine regions that collectively make up the Barossa zone. The remaining regions are the Eden Valley and High Eden. A fourth region of Springton is in the interim stage of determination.

The Barossa Valley GI was finalised on 15th August 1997, when the name was entered in the Registrar of Protected Names. The term defines the region’s physical boundaries and proscribes its use under Commonwealth of Australia law (Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation Act 1980).

History

The Barossa is often regarded as the heartland of the South Australian wine industry. However, it is more accurate to state vines were being planted in the McLaren Vale region south of Adelaide within two years of the colony being settled in 1836. Indeed, by the time Johannn Gramp arrived at Jacob’s Creek in 1847, there were some 80ha of vineyards further south.

The Barossa Valley’s unique winegrowing history began in 1842 with the influx of German Lutheran farmers from their native Silesia. In 1849, the first significant English influence came in the form of Samuel Smith, a one-time brewer who founded Yalumba, Australia’s oldest family-owned winery.

Wine grape production in the region has been something of a rollercoaster ride for growers. Up until World War One, the valley’s vineyards grew and prospered, firstly as producers of dry regional table wines, and then as the backbone of the Australian fortified wine industry. Subsequent declines in business activity between the 1920s and 1950s allowed the region to soldier on in its own steadfast way.

The commencement of the Barossa Valley Vintage Festival at the end of the 1940s marked a gradual return to prosperity until the 1970s. Before long, consumer preferences for fruity white wine then led to an unhealthy over-production of red and fortified styles. A government-backed vine pull scheme resulted in the removal of vast numbers of century-old vines.

With the return to favour of red wine a little more than a decade later, increased financial investment in Barossa brought the region new confidence and prominence. Today, it is home to 120 wineries, including more than 60 cellar doors. Many businesses are able to trace their family heritage back over many generations. The iconic Jacob’s Creek name is not just the region’s most popular and readily identifiable wine brand, it is one of Australia’s leading exporters of bottled wine.

Climate

Located well away from the cooling influences of the Gulf of St Vincent, vineyards on the floor of the Barossa are at the mercy of the elements during summer. That noted, heat summation figures across the entire season – around 1710 units - are on a par with those of Western Australia’s Margaret River.

In general, the Barossa’s undulating terrain twists and turns through a range of microclimates and mesoclimates. Sites in the Eden Valley – around 500m above sea level - are considerably cooler than their less elevated neighbours. That provides some additional benefit for white varieties as vintage approaches.

Mean January temperature maxima can vary from 19.4°C at Springton to 21.4°C at Tanunda.

The Barossa’s highest monthly rainfall totals are recorded during winter and spring. With only 210 mm of the valley floor’s 520 mm total annual rainfall occurring during the October-April growing season, supplementary drip irrigation is often required to alleviate vine stress and unwelcome berry shrivel.

For the Eden Valley producer, average rainfall during the growing season typically reaches 750mm. Around one third of it falls during the growing season. Unlike neighbours on the valley floor below, growers on exposed sites are subject to winds that de-vigour vines and significantly reduce crop yields.

Regions

  • Barossa (including Eden Valley) (SA)
  • Barossa Valley (SA)

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