Discover the diverse and rich wine regions of South Australia. From the winemakers of South Australia to the wineries and wine, uncover all that South Australia has to offer.
Discover the the wine regions of South Australia
Discover the the wine regions of South Australia with James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia
Victoria may have more wineries and regions, New South Wales more zones, and Western Australia may have the largest single zone, but South Australia still rightly calls itself the wine state. It has 42 per cent of the nation’s vineyards, is responsible for 46 per cent of the annual crush, makes more than 50 per cent of the annual wine output (it is a nett buyer of grapes and bulk wine from the other states), and is headquarters for five of the six largest wine groups in Australia.
It was not always thus: in 1889, at the height of Victoria’s production (before the onset of phylloxera), South Australia produced 2.29 million litres compared to Victoria’s 7.1 million litres. Federation (which removed state duties) and the progressive opening of the Riverland areas along the Murray River led to an all-time high share of 80 per cent by South Australia in 1946. By the 1980s South Australia’s contribution to the national make varied between 58 per cent and 65 per cent, according to the vagaries of vintage.
In 1991 it was responsible for 51 per cent of the crush, so it might seem there has been little change. In fact, in that year Australia made 394 million litres of wine; in 2004 the total was 1432 million litres. The size of the cake has grown exponentially, South Australia’s production with it.
With the exception of the Far North Zone (and its single region, the Southern Flinders Ranges), all the viticultural activity huddles in the extreme south-eastern corner of the state. This may suggest a degree of homogeneity in varietal choice and wine style, when nothing could be further from the truth.
Altitude, latitude and land forms interact with, and in some instances determine, regional and/or site specific climate; widely different soil types then join to help create terroir. So it is that fine sparkling wines are made in the cooler parts of the Adelaide Hills, less than an hour’s drive from the searingly hot Adelaide Plains, and only a little further from the home of Australia’s unique, unctuously rich, almost treacly Para Liqueur Vintage Tawny, the 100- year-old fortified wine first released when it has reached its centenary birthday.