Wine making has a long history in the Barossa Valley. German settlers coming from Silesia saw its potential in the first half of the 19th century for their Riesling which was commonly planted in Rhineland (Germany).
It took a while for these farmers with no wine making tradition to come up with the right varieties, techniques and blends. For decades the region has preferred to distil their ripe and alcoholic white wine rather than drink it. The region was known for its fortified wines, or low quality Shiraz and Grenache.
But everything changed in the second half of the 20th century, as some producers started to focus on quality and revealed the unique potential of Shiraz grapes in the Barossa Valley climate and soil. In no time, the rich and full bodied Shiraz with spicy notes from Barossa has become the quintessential expression of Australian wine.
Geography and climate
Located near Adelaide in South Australia, Barossa has a relatively warm and dry climate, although its valleys and hills have their own microclimate that is sometimes significantly cooler. With only 6.3 inches of rainfall on average during the growing season, most producers need to irrigate.
The region is associated with its signature Shiraz but a lot of other varieties are grown. As producers noticed the climate was very similar to the Rhone valley, they planted other varieties popular in that region, such as Grenache and Mourvedre (also known as Mataro).
Despite an international reputation for red wines, Barossa valley produces a lot of white wines. Riesling wine production, started in 1843 in the region and has never stopped but has shifted to the nearby Eden Valley, a cooler part of the Barossa region. We also find nice golden and full-bodied Semillon from Barossa, and of course Chardonnay.
Barossa is also known as an interesting tourist destination, obviously to visit the wineries and cellar doors but also to enjoy gourmet local produce or visit the nearby National Parks.