Murray Darling Wine Region
The Murray Darling wine region, co-hosted by northwestern Victoria and southwestern New South Wales, produces varying styles of wines.
Although this vast, hot-climate wine country is the second-largest grape-growing region in Australia, the area has recently seen an influx of boutique wineries and vignerons. The Murray Darling has, up until recent years, been solely associated with the exportation of economic-style wines, but the rebirth of small-scale wineries focusing on high-quality drops is expanding. Extracting from Mediterranean vine plantings, alternative varieties of viognier, petit verdot and sangiovese are among those grapes suited to the region’s warm temperatures. Other staples grown here are shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnay.
Feeding on the Murray River, the wine region is a natural hotspot for holidaymakers, with abundant opportunities for watersports and houseboat adventures. The riverside locations lure visitors to relax by the water, dine out and sample local produce in between cellar door visits. Travellers flying from Sydney can expect a two-hour flight, those from Adelaide will hit the region in little over a four-hour drive, and Melburnians will arrive within a six-hour drive.
James Halliday on the Murray Darling
The wheel of fortune seems to have turned full circle since the crisis of the 1893 great bank crash (and consequent depression) and of a severe, long-lasting drought, which led to the bankruptcy of the visionary founder of Mildura, William Chaffey, in 1897. The drought halted all river traffic on the Murray, which stopped flowing, leaving alternative pools and dry stretches of sand to mark its course.
Events prior to this had also been dramatic. William Chaffey, together with his brother George, had been persuaded to immigrate to Victoria from their native California by lawyer-turned-politician (and future Prime Minister) Alfred Deakin. Deakin had visited California in the 1880s and seen first-hand the irrigation systems designed by the Chaffeys in the state's orange groves.
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Early February to mid March