The Heritage of Barossa
Best known for some of Australia’s most highly priced and sought after red wines, what is the X-factor in Barossa that secures it a special place in wine lovers’ hearts? Ask any wine drinker to nominate their favourite Australian region and it would be safe to assume the majority would name the Barossa. Grapes were first planted in the Barossa in the 1840s by Lutheran settlers who emigrated to South Australia to escape persecution in Europe. They discovered that vines positively thrived in the warm Mediterranean climate. Although the majority of the grapes harvested at that time were destined for fortified rather than table wine production, such was its success that by the late 1920s, 25 per cent of Australia’s total wine production came from the Barossa.
After an unsettled period following World Wars I and II, the region was reinvigorated in the 1940s and 1950s by winemakers such as Colin Gramp, Max Schubert and Cyril Henschke who were keen to see the Barossa become the preeminent region. A greater understanding of the role of barrel ageing, blending and vinification meant that excellent quality red table wines began to be produced. Today the Barossa is a recognised Geographical Zone comprising two distinct regions: the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley.
VALLEY OF FINE WINE
The Barossa Valley has 11,400 hectares of vineyards, planted on a number of different soil types, predominantly clay loams and sandy soils. Low lying, with a warm, dry climate, it is ideally suited to ripening red varieties such as Shiraz, Mataro, Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon. Although the region only receives an average of 160mm of rain annually, many of the older, more established vineyards are dry grown i.e. without the need for irrigation.
The Valley is home to over 100 hectares of vines that are more than a century old; Penfolds 10-acre Block 42 which lies within the Kalimna vineyards contains what are believed to be the oldest plantings of continuously producing Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the world. Fruit destined for Langmeil's Freedom 1843 Shiraz comes from vines planted by Christian Auricht in 1843 whilst Turkey Flat's Shiraz vineyard was planted in 1847 and the Schulz family continue to make wine from these original vines.
However in the late 1970s, the Barossa went through a rough patch when large wine companies used widespread irrigation to boost the volume of wine produced. The threat of a wine glut prompted the South Australian government to introduce a Vine Pull Scheme, paying growers to remove what were believed to be unproductive vineyards. Unfortunately this resulted in the destruction of many
The Barossa has 11,400 hectares of vineyards, planted on a number of different soil types, predominantly clay loams and sandy soils.
Grapes were first planted in Barossa Valley in 1840s
Barossa is suited for red varieties like Shiraz,
Grenache and Cabernet Sauvignon