The stunning South Australian wine region of Southern Fleurieu is home to a host of must-visit cellar doors and eateries to add to your itinerary.
Expect everything from spectacular coastlines to rolling hills throughout the region, with this quiet, yet burgeoning area offering wine and food lovers plenty to explore.
The cool-climate region yields a selection of crisp wine styles, including chardonnay and reisling. Winemakers also pride themselves on producing elegant red styles, including standout merlot and cabernet sauvignon, distinctive for their depth of flavour. Linger over a medium-bodied shiraz viognier or the bright, aromatic styles of pinot noir.
The region’s undulating terrain and rugged coastal outlook create a photogenic getaway, which includes camping opportunities in national parks, a range of tours and water sports. Neighbouring the famous McLaren Vale region, and little over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the wine region is ripe to explore.
James Halliday on Southern Fleurieu
As with Kangaroo Island, the vineyards and wineries are but one of numerous tourist attractions. The rolling slopes and gentle hills pose no limitations to viticulture, simply enhancing the beauty of the vineyards and the diversity of the scenery. This is quite distinct from any other part of the zone, and the quality of the wines made to date will almost certainly lead to further plantings and developments.
Settlement began in the middle of the 19th century, and rapidly diversified with flour mills for locally grown wheat, a brewery and extensive grazing. Viticulture began with the arrival of Buxton Laurie (the ancestor of a distinguished wine family in the regions around Adelaide) in the 1860s. By 1876 his Southcote Vineyards near Port Elliot covered 180 hectares, but were destroyed Cape Jervis by massive bushfires in the 1890s. Other vineyards in the region escaped, although by the turn of the century activity had ceased, only reactivated after a gap of nearly 90 years.
The eminent viticultural climate researcher, Dr John Gladstones, has written in Viticulture and Environment: “At least in climatic terms, the lower Fleurieu Peninsula has arguably the best conditions in all of mainland South Australia for table wine production.”
That said, the best wines to date are the fragrant, elegant chardonnays, sauvignon blancs and semillon sauvignon blancs. The red wines share the same elegance, but – particularly in cooler vintages – can struggle with mid-palate vinosity and fruit sweetness. Merlot and shiraz seem most likely to adapt as the vines mature.
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