When you think about wine, Australia usually isn’t the first thing that will pop into mind. You think France or Italy, Spain or California, but anywhere in the Oceana region seems just, meh. They’ve got their critter wine, their Yellow Tail which is great for a bunch of Moms getting together and having a “crazy” night in. But you wouldn’t exactly travel to Australia just for the wine unless you’re a sommelier or wealthy individual with an interest in wine. But let me just tell you, Australia is pumping out some killer wines and a lot at that.
Did you know that Australia is the 4th largest wine producing country in the world? Because I sure didn’t. It’s a billion-dollar industry for the country and after tasting some of these wines I can see why.
There are a few major wine regions in Australia and many lesser known ones. Hunter Valley, Barossa, Yarra, and Margaret Valley are all very well known and popular amongst travelers due to their convenience to major cities like Sydney, Adelaide, and Perth.
Shiraz is the most famous varietal here due to the climate and soil. Almost every vineyard has their own Shiraz, which was very cool to see how so many vineyards could create a wine with the same grape yet they could taste completely different. Chardonnay follows with white and between the two they make up 44% of Australia’s wine. How crazy is that?!
But please don’t forget about Semillon. Though not as famous as Shiraz and Chardonnay, I became a big fan of this white after tasting how buttery and smooth it can be.
Another fun fact; because Phylloxera, pests that destroyed vines in Europe during the late 19th century, have never made it to Barossa Valley, it is said that this region holds some of the oldest living vines today. Who would have thought?
I went to many a tastings at different vineyards in Australia and I love how they operate. Most vineyards charge $5 for a tasting unless you a buy a bottle then that $5 goes towards the bottle. Not a bad deal. We ended up buying quite a few bottles and had a collection of “fancy wine” for “special occasions” during those few months. As a backpacker that mostly meant, we feel good today, let’s break out the special wine!
We usually didn’t plan too much on which wineries we visited. It was nice taking the “tourist drives” through the regions and just stopping whenever we saw a pretty vineyard. It’s always fun to be surprised by what you find, am I right? But if you’re looking for a little more structure there are plenty of tours that take you from major cities to a few vineyards, or you can stop at the tourist information center in that area and ask them which places are a must see. Not to mention I absolutely do not condone drinking and driving at all. I was lucky that my travel mate didn’t mind driving so he would taste a few of his favorite styles then gulp down lots of water and eat plenty of food. I, meanwhile, enjoyed myself immensely.
Have you visited any of Australia’s wine regions? Let me know in the comments below!