The Southern Highlands form part of the Great Dividing Range, with the area sitting between 500 and 900 metres above sea level; the vineyards are positioned at up to 700 metres in altitude. Generally the region is cool, moist and slightly humid.   

Though there are records pointing to table grape vineyards and a modest wine production of 4300 litres (1135 gallons) in 1886, there was little viticulture during the early 20th century, and the current wine history of the region dates only from the 1980s, when the Joadja Vineyards and Winery were established.

Wine tasting, sampling great regional food and unwinding are essential ingredients to a visit to the Southern Highlands, a favoured country retreat for Sydneysiders. The main wine varieties produced include Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. 

36° 27'S
Latitude
600-750m
Altitude
596mm
Growing season rainfall

Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

The Southern Highlands is an area where Cabernet Sauvignon and its related varieties perform better in warmer years. At present it is producing medium-bodied wines showing light berry and briar characteristics, mostly from young vines. 

Chardonnay

Yet another of Australia’s cooler Chardonnay areas, the region makes both unwooded and wooded styles. Melon, lime and citrus characters dominate, sometimes with a touch of green apple. Oak handling is light and skilful; acidity is generally good, auguring well for ageing. 

Riesling

Riesling is showing promise, with floral citrus complexities in young wines and touches of honey and toast in older wines. 

Sauvignon Blanc

These wines are very much in the general run of good cool-area Australian Sauvignon Blanc; light, smoky, grassy traits on nose and palate with good acidity. 

Top varieties grown in Southern Highlands
Climate
  • Generally the region is cool, moist and slightly humid, and can be characterised as having a moderately Continental climate with mild summers and cool winters. 
  • Rainfall is evenly distributed throughout the year, varying from heavy (1664 millimetres or 65 inches) in the east to moderate at Joadja, with 832 millimetres (32 inches). 
  • Viticultural hazards include hail, frosts during April, attacks by animals on young vines and birds feasting on un-netted vines at harvest time. 
  • Fungal diseases, including downy and powdery mildews, are also present and require sulphur or copper-based sprays for control. Botrytis can also present problems in very warm vintages. 
Soil
  • The principal viticultural soils are those derived from basalt (red and brown krasnozems and red earths) and shale (red and brown podzolics and brown earths).  Both soils incline to acidity, which may be corrected by the addition of lime. 
  • Krasnozem soils promote vigorous growth but are free-draining; the red podsols, common throughout south-east Australia, are less fertile and do not drain as well. 
  • There are also some sandstone-derived yellow earths.