With a long history of wine production, the region has more than 500 grapegrowers, including some fifth- and sixth-generation growers. Years of trial and error have given growers a deep understanding of each individual site. Variations in altitude, slope, soil and other factors affect what is planted on each site and how it is managed. The survival of the region’s old vines is indicative of sites that are ideal for a particular variety. While history and tradition are key to Barossa’s success, the local wine community is constantly experimenting with different grape varieties and new – and old – viticultural practices.
The Barossa Valley region is the heartland of fine wine production. In the warm, dry climate old bush vines produce outstanding Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Classic Barossa Valley Shiraz is full-bodied, with soft tannins and ripe black fruit complemented by sweek American oak. It softens and develops aromas of leather and spice as it ages. The most notable wine variety is Semillon, which is increasingly made in a fresh, unoaked style. Wine labelled Barossa comes from the Barossa zone and can be made from fruit sourced from Barossa Valley and the nearby Eden Valley.
Eden Valley is located in the hills to the east of the Barossa Valley. The Eden Valley region has a cool to moderate climate that varies with altitude. Outstanding quality Rieslings are made in the cooler vineyards, having intense lime and grapefruit aromas and a steely character. The best have longevity displaying marmalade and toasty characters after ten years. Shiraz, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon are also grown with success.
A Rich Heritage
Barossa has a rich vine and wine history dating back to the early 1840s. Silesian farmers settled in the region seeking a fresh start and by the 1890s, dozens of wineries had been established including Oscar Seppelt’s Seppeltsfield, Johann Gramp’s Orlando, Samuel Smith’s Yalumba, William Salter’s Saltram and Johann Henschke’s Henschke Wines.
Many would claim the region’s star performers to be Barossa Valley Shiraz and Eden Valley Riesling. Barossa is home to some of the oldest continuously growing Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Mataro, Grenache and Riesling vines in the world, dating back to the 1840s.
Grape Growers and Winemakers Today
In recent years, traditional styles have been joined by a new wave of Mediterraneanvarieties, suited to Barossa’s soils and climates. The region has also been invigorated by a new breed of grape growers and winemakers who have challenged the status quo while maintaining an inherent love and respect for Barossa traditions and culture.
The History of Barossa Wines
1840s–1850s: Barossa is first developed by the British. Soon after, Silesian Lutheran immigrants arrive and give the region a German flavour. Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Mataro, Semillon and Riesling vines are planted.
Late 1830s: Shortly after the establishment of South Australia, Barossa is identified as a fertile area well suited to agriculture and viticulture.
1800s –1960s: Barossa steadily grows, becoming a specialist in fortified wines to satisfy consumer tastes.
1970s –1980s: Barossa wines diversify as consumer tastes evolve. They soon gain a global reputation, heralding a golden era for the region.
Early 1990s–2000s: Intense, concentrated and heavily oaked wines become the fashion, and Barossa Shiraz, Grenache and red blends are in high demand.
2009: The Barossa Old Vine Charter, which aims to recognise and preserve old vines, is launched.
2010s –Today: Traditional Barossa varieties have been joined by a new wave of Mediterranean varieties, as well as a new breed of grape growers and winemakers exploring innovative techniques.
The spelling of ‘Barossa’ came about through error. Colonel William Light, Surveyor-General of South Australia and the man who decided the site of Adelaide, named the region after the Barrossa Ridge in Spain where he fought during the Peninsula War. An administrative mistake saw its spelling changed to ‘Barossa’, which is how it is known to this day.
Distance: Barossa is just a 50-minute drive north east of Adelaide.
Barossa Events: https://southaustralia.com/places-to-go/barossa/whats-on