Altitude and attitude

The wines from Adelaide Hills are shaped by the coolness of the region’s altitude, its changing seasons and the skill and passion of its winemakers. There were vines planted in the Adelaide Hills as early as the 1870s but due to the challenges of cool-climate viticulture in those early days, most vines were removed by the 1930s. The rebirth of the Adelaide Hills region started in 1970s and gained pace with the rise in popularity of cool climate wines in the 1980s and 1990s.

The cooler climate defines the Adelaide Hills and provides them with a distinctive point of difference to other South Australian regions that has allowed it to spearhead the evolution of Australian wine in recent years. Its winemaking evolution continues to this day, and it is now a hotbed of creativity; home to bold, boundary-pushing grape growers and winemakers.

Read more about Adelaide Hills.

Adelaide Hills
Adelaide Hills
This map is not an accurate representation of the regional GI boundaries. Please click here to view an accurate map of the regional boundary.

Adelaide Hills snapshot

The rebirth of the area as a wine region began with winemaker Brian Croser and his family planting Chardonnay in the region in 1979. Brian had identified the potential of the region as one of the best places in Australia to plant cool climate loving varieties.  He was soon joined by other Australian wine pioneers including Stephen George at Ashton Hills, Geoff Weaver in Lenswood and Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw at Shaw and Smith. Today there are around 100 producers in Adelaide Hills who have planted over 4,000 hectares of vines between them.

 

While still a young wine region, the Adelaide Hills has been acclaimed around the world for many years for wonderful expressions of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Shiraz. The region has played a vital part in the evolution of Australian wine and is itself constantly evolving. Emerging varieties are finding a home in the Hills and it is home to cutting-edge winemakers pushing the boundaries and expanding the possibilities for fine Australian wine.

Read more about Adelaide Hills.

3052ha
Total vineyard area
400-550m
Altitude
34° 00'S
Latitude
280-320mm
Growing season rainfall
19.1°c
Mean temperature (Jan)
1270
Heat degree days
White
60%
Red
40%
Type

Chardonnay

Complex medium weight wines with good natural acidity. A decent amount of Chardonnay, especially from the cooler sites, is used in the production of sparkling wine.

Pinot Noir

Adelaide Hills is the leading region in South Australia for the production of high quality Pinot Noir. The style is typically medium-bodied with ripe cherry and strawberry fruit with soft tannins. A proportion of Pinot Noir contributes to the production of high quality sparkling wines.

Sauvignon Blanc

This is the most widely planted white variety in the Adelaide Hills and is often referred to as the benchmark for Sauvignon Blanc in Australia. The style tends towards ripe tropical flavours with hints of gooseberry and herbaceousness, with crisp acidity, great length and intensity.

Shiraz

While the concept of Shiraz and Pinot Noir performing well in the same region may be a beguiling concept to some, the success of these varieties in the Adelaide Hills speaks volumes for the size of the region and diversity of microclimates available to grape growers and winemakers. In recent years the region has become a leader in cool climate Australian Shiraz, producing wines with elegance, length and balance.

Top varieties grown in Adelaide Hills
Climate
  • Altitude creates various meso-climates but overall the climate is cool
  • The region is very hilly with various valleys and sub-valleys
  • Some west facing slopes in the northern area are warm enough to ripen Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Most of the region is best suited to early ripening varieties
Soil
  • Predominantly grey-brown or brown loamy sands
  • Some patches of mostly sandy soils 

Stories of Australian Wine

Regional associations

Adelaide Hills Wine Region Inc