Old vines and classic wines

Originally established by British settlers, the Barossa is one of the most historic wine producing regions in Australia. There is a strong, historic German influence in the Barossa from Prussian Lutheran emigrants, with many descendants of the original settlers now sixth-generation grape growing families.

Barossa is home to Australia’s largest collection of old vines. Many blocks of productive vines date back to the 1860s. Langmeil’s Freedom vineyard (planted in 1843) is likely the oldest Shiraz vineyard in the world. 

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

Barossa Valley snapshot

With a rich vine and wine history dating back to 1842, the Barossa Valley is one of the most historic wine producing regions in Australia.  There are now sixth generation grape growing families in the Barossa Valley, they are the custodians to Australia’s largest collection of old vines with blocks dating back to the 1840’s. Australian wine is inextricably linked with Barossa Shiraz for many people and while the variety is definitely the Barossa’s star performer, varieties like Grenache, Mourvedre/Mataro, Riesling and Semillon all have a long and distinguished history of producing exceptional wines.

In recent years these traditional Barossa varieties have been joined by a new wave of Mediterranean varieties, suited to the region’s soils and climate. The region has also been invigorated by a new breed of winemakers who have challenged the status quo while still maintaining an inherent love and respect for the Barossa traditions and culture.

Some are exploring innovative choices of grape varieties, planting Mediterranean varieties that are better suited to the Barossa’s warm climate than classic French varieties. Fiano, Montepulciano, Tempranillo, Dolcetto and Graciano are just a handful of the varieties that are finding a new home in the Barossa Valley. Others like Abel Gibson at Ruggabellus are exploring traditional Barossa Valley varieties like Grenache, Shiraz, Mataro and Riesling in new and exciting ways to much acclaim.

For wine labelling purposes wines labeled “Barossa” can include fruit from Eden Valley but if labeled “Barossa Valley” they must contain exclusively fruit from the Barossa Valley.

11,370 ha
Total vineyard area
250-370m
Altitude
34° 29'S
Latitude
160mm
Growing season rainfall
21.4°c
Mean temperature (Jan)
1710
Heat degree days
White
20%
Red
80%
Type

Cabernet Sauvignon

Tends to do best in the cooler sites and in cooler vintages in this region. The Barossa Cabernet style is generally richer with riper fruit character and softer tannins than Coonawarra and Margaret River.

Grenache

Often blended with both Shiraz and Mataro (GSM) to produce classic complex and textured red wines. Grenache is also made as a single varietal wine with rich with ripe raspberry and peppery spice character.

Riesling

The most important white variety of the region with classic lime flavours and aromas. Can age gracefully for 10 years or more.

Shiraz

Occupies 50% of the vineyard plantings and is the most famous variety in the Barossa. The Barossa has some of the oldest Shiraz vines in the world dating back to 1843. The style is typically full-bodied with ripe fruit and plush tannins; the very best examples moderate this natural richness with balanced acidity and a focused pure fruit character.

Top varieties grown in Barossa Valley
Climate
  • The region has a Meditarranean climate ideal for full-bodied red wines, excellent fortified wines and generally robust white wines.
  • The climate ranges from warm on the valley floor to cool at the higher altitudes in the hills surrounding the Valley. 
  • The region has a large diurnal temperature range, high maximum temperatures, high sunshine days and  low humidity and rainfall. 
Soil
  • The complex system of valleys and twisting hills results in a variety of slopes, aspects and sites.
  • The soils vary widely, but fall in a family of relatively low-fertility clay loam through to more sandy soils, ranging through grey to brown to red.
  • As in so much of south-east Australia, acidity increases in the subsoils, restricting root growth and vigour. 

Stories of Australian Wine

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