Australia

Wine Regions of South Australia

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12 January 2021

South Australia is home to wineries of all shapes and sizes. Big and small, there’s room for everyone to get involved here. 

The wine regions of South Australia are home to some of the most prolific wine producers whose wares grace the shelves of every supermarket around the world, right down to the small batch vintners, whose wares we champion here at Plonk Wine Co. 

Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard

One such wine from South Australia that we can’t get enough of at the moment is Terre à Terre Sauvignon Blanc 2016. This is an exquisite example of the eighth release of this fine Australian classic wine. The team at Terre à Terre Crayères Vineyard hand harvest the grapes from their close-spaced vineyard, before pressing the whole bunch. 

The resulting juice is then fermented in big old oak demi-muids, slowly turning into the Terre à Terre Sauvignon Blanc that you’ll find here. 

Why is 2016 so notable? Because 2016 as a year was incredibly warm and dry without any damaging heatwaves. And this Sauvignon Blanc is bursting with the characteristics you’d expect of this vintage – jam packed full of ripe, fruity flavours with a wonder texture and superb finish. 

Why South Australia is a great place to produce wine

South Australia has 18 wine producing regions contained within its borders, with Adelaide considered the wine capital of Australia. As the wine producing heartland of the country, containing over 44% of Australia’s vineyards, producing almost 50% of Australia’s annual wine output, South Australia hasn’t always been synonymous with making so much wine.

In 1889, South Australia produced only one third of Victoria’s wine output, but with the progressive opening of the Riverlands along the Murray River, and thanks to the region’s relative isolation, it survived the great phylloxera plagues of the 1900s, and their wine production soared as a result. By the 1980s, South Australia was contributing between 58-65% of Australia’s total wine production. 

So why is South Australia home to so many great wine producing regions? Well, for starters, there isn’t one climate for the whole region. South Australia experiences a multitude of climates from cool ocean to hot, inland plains. 

The Barossa Valley has a reasonably temperate climate, the McLaren Vale experiences maritime climes, the Riverland region along the Murray River is ravishingly hot, whereas Adelaide Hills is considerably cooler. 

As well as the differing climates, the region also has a veritable mix of different soil types and combined with the cooling ocean breezes, results in a range of differing wine styles and quality of wine. 

Notable South Australian wine regions

South Australia is home to some of the world’s most prestigious wine producing regions, including the renowned Barossa Valley, Coonawarra and Clare Valley, to name but a few. 

There isn’t one eminent region that produces more or better wine than any other region. All of these incredible regions work collectively to make Australia a serious wine producing country. 

Where once each region might have been renowned for one type of wine production, now, thanks to an evolution of wine styles, has meant each South Australian wine region can no longer be defined by one single wine or style of wine. 

Take for instance, Adelaide Hills. This is one of South Australia’s most innovative wine producing regions, home to some truly experimental producers. And then there’s the Wrattonbully wine region, a region of World Heritage listed geology that has fast become popular for wine production, due to its incredible viticultural attributes. 

Barossa Valley

Old vines and classic wines epitomise Barossa Valley. This region of South Australia is brimming with wine history, not least because it’s home to one of Australia’s largest collections of old vines – these vines date back to the 1840s, pre-phylloxera plague. 

Most notably, the region is famed for its traditional Shiraz and Grenache wines, though new, small batch winemakers, keen to stamp their mark, have been pushing the boundaries and exploring what else can come from this c climate. Expect full bodied reds and robust whites from the Barossa Valley vintners. 

Wrattonbully

While it may not have the history behind it like other notable wine regions of South Australia, that hasn’t stopped Wrattonbully from attracting many incredible winemakers to its fertile ground. 

The potential to produce some truly outstanding wines here isn’t if, but when. The world class pastures with their terra rossa soils, extending over limestone, are the perfect planting ground for vines. 

And as these vines mature, small batch winemakers, those expert artisans who understand the Wrattonbully grapes, will produce award winning wine, time after time. 

Coonawarra

There is one product that makes Coonawarra stand out from the other notable wine producing regions of South Australia, and that’s its Cabernet Sauvignon. 

This region is one of Australia’s most eminent producers of this classic wine, revered around the world. But that doesn’t mean the winemakers of Coonawarra aren’t capable of innovation, far from it. 

From such steady foundations, a new generation of winemakers has emerged, producing an incredible array of different varieties, without besmirching the great Coonawarra name.

Adelaide Hills

The cool climate of the Adelaide Hills stems from its altitudes ranging from 200-600m above sea level and imbues Adelaide Hills’ wines with a distinctive point of difference. Enabling them to stand out from the other incredible wines that are coming out of South Australia. 

Combined with its changing seasons and the exemplary wine making skills of the resident winemakers, wine from Adelaide Hills is an exciting, distinctive entity, produced by truly notable, boundary redefining creative, small batch vintners. 

Clare Valley

Settled in the 1830s, the first vines planted and harvested in Clare Valley, produced the first Clare Valley wines as early as 1840. And just as they did back then, the warm hot summers combined with the cool sea breezes, keep the ripening process in check, resulting in some of Australia’s preeminent Rieslings. 

With such illustrious history guiding them, new, small batch winemakers are keen to push the boundaries, while maintaining the quality and consistency of wine that this region is renowned for. 

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