Best Australian Wines & Wineries

J.M. Towers

Get to know the greatest drinks from ‘Down Under.’

Australian wines are currently at the forefront of viticulture and have earned, by their own merit, a privileged place in the international market. But much has happened since 1788—ten years after the arrival of European—when the first vines were planted in the country, particularly in New South Wales. Join us as we explore the seven most important winemaking regions in the land ‘Down Under’: Margaret River, Barossa Valley, Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, and the Mornington Peninsula.

In 1822, Gregory Blaxland, an English colonist settled in Australia, succeeded in bringing to London the red wine produced in his vineyards near Sydney. However, it was not until World War II that the country started exporting red wines. Although the output is less than 4 percent of global production, Australian wines have carved their own niche to the point that today they represent a threat to the French leadership position in the Anglo consumer preferences.

Best Australian Wines & Wineries

Australia’s wine regions cultivate over 100 different varieties of grapes. From the historical strains, planted in 1830 in the wine region of Barossa Valley, come the most coveted red wines, especially their world-renowned Shiraz. The most common grape varieties in Australia are:

White: Chardonnay, Semillon, Muscat, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.
Red: Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Monastrell.

The seven Australian regions that produce the best wines.

Margaret River
Western Australia

This is one of the best wine growing regions in the world, an area recognized for the quality of its white wines, especially the varieties of Chardonnay and Semillon. Two wineries stand out in this region: Cullen and Leeuwin Estate. Cullen is a family-owned winery, which produces white wines that reflect the place and the land where they come from. The Mangan Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Semillon and the Cullen Vineyard Chardonnay are their most celebrated creations. Meanwhile, Leeuwin Estate has earned an international reputation for producing exceptional Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Riesling, and Semillon varieties. This winery released its first commercial harvest in 1979 and quickly attracted the world’s attention. Currently, Leeuwin Estate exports its wines to more than 30 countries.

Barossa Valley
South Australia

This is Australia’s most renowned wine region, located just an hour’s drive from the center of Adelaide. The best-known winery in the area is Jacob’s Creek, recognized as a major oenological tourism site after receiving, for three consecutive years, the Best Major Tourist Attraction award. Their award-winning wines made from Shiraz, Sauvignon, Merlot, and Chardonnay grapes are very prestigious. Seppeltsfield is an emblematic Australian wine estate located in the Barossa Valley. It proudly displays a legacy that dates back to 1851. This winery specializes in Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Shiraz, Touriga, Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola, and Palomino. It is famous for its centennial collection, an uninterrupted strain that has yielded a vintage every year since 1878.

Adelaide Hills
Southern Australia

This is the most vibrant cold climate wine region of Australia, internationally recognized for its characteristic first-class wines, viticulture, and stunning scenery. Penfolds Winery is an important part of Australia’s wine history, known for producing wines of the highest quality. This winery exudes the charm and character of its founders, whose pioneering spirit introduced their family name to Australian homes more than 165 years ago. Deserving the greatest admiration are their award-winning wines made from Shiraz, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Sangiovese grapes. The Penfolds Grace Shiraz wine is one of the current oenological wonders Australia exports to the world.

McLaren Vale
Southern Australia

Nestled between soft, rolling hills and the picturesque coastline, McLaren Vale, with its Mediterranean climate, has the perfect conditions for farming grapes. Excellent climate and soil produce an intensely flavored fruit and a deep purple wine that can last decades in the bottle. Established in 1912, D’Arenberg is one of the most significant wineries in McLaren Vale. From the 1970s, its wines have forged a significant profile nationally and abroad. Their Tyche’s Mustard Single Vineyard Shiraz is prized for its balance and elegance.

Hunter Valley
New South Wales

This is the oldest wine producing area in Australia, located two hours north of Sydney. The first Hunter Valley vineyards were planted in the 1820s. Wyndham Estate is one of the country’s oldest wine producers. Since the first commercial Shiraz varieties were planted in 1830, the winery has been dedicated to creating rich, robust and full-bodied wines. It exports to 65 countries and is internationally acclaimed for its Shiraz. The critics consider the BIN 555 Shiraz 2008 a delightfully vintage.

Yarra Valley

The region is famous for producing the best Pinot Noir and sparkling wine in the Southern hemisphere in addition to a variety of cold climate wines. Bortoli Wines, near Melbourne, is area’s main winery. Presently in its fourth generation, the farm is home to some of the oldest plantations in the valley. The creations from Tarrawarra Estate are also outstanding recommendations. This winery is widely known for offering an unforgettable experience, including wine tastings in a restaurant nestled within this prized valley.

Mornington Peninsula

This beautiful corner of Australia boasts impressive orchards, olive groves, and historic mansions. The natural topography and temperate climate are ideal for winemaking. Montalto produces high-quality cold climate wines and specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay varieties. The estate is famous for its warm and relaxed Australian architecture, its intimate cellar and beautiful grounds.  ■

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