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orange bulletExplore The Vineyards Of South Australia

South Australia is one of the powerhouses of the Australian wine industry, producing more than 50 per cent of the wines and 65 per cent of the brandy made in Australia. The industry generates over 2 billion dollars for the state coffers.

Wine lovers flock to the state to enjoy the sight of neatly tended vineyards stretching across valleys, plains and hillsides of Barossa, Mclaren Vale, Clare Valley, Riverland, Adelaide Hills, Coonawarra, Langhorne Creek and areas around Padthaway. Most of the South Australian wineries are open for inspection, tastings and cellar-door sales.

The Barossa is the best known of the South Australian wine growing areas, encompassing Barossa Valley and Eden Valley. It is an easy drive from Adelaide, being just 55 kilometres north-east of the capital. This is a place of charming, historic old towns surrounded by well-tended vineyards spreading across undulating hills.

The Barossa Valley was named in 1837 by Colonel Light in memory of Barrosa in Spain, where he fought in a battle in 1811. The recorded spelling 'Barossa' was an error that was never rectified.

First settled in 1839 by English and German pioneers, the Barossa of today still exhibits a distinctive culture and atmosphere that derives from the original Germanic influx of the mid-nineteenth century and is evidenced in the stone buildings, restaurants, bakeries and the Lutheran churches scattered throughout the region.

The Barossa is noted for the quality and variety of it's wines. Rieslings, shiraz and chardonnay are just some of the varieties that have proved to be highly successful. Some of Australia's most iconic wineries are found here, names such as Yalumba, Orlando, Penfolds, Seppelt, Wolf Blass and Peter Lehmann.

Some wineries are still run by current generations of the original pioneer families that established them last century, while others have been incorporated into big international companies, but in all cases the distinctive qualities of the region's wine remain.

There are many medium-size wineries making excellent wines, such as Grant Burge, Bethany, Basedow, Krondorf and Henschke. The region is also home to many boutique wineries specialising in producing premium wines such as Barossa Settlers, Elderton, Rockford, Turkey Flat, Gnadenfrei Estate, Charles Cimicky and St Hallett.

The Mclaren Vale region lies on the Fleurieu Peninsula, just south of Adelaide, and is noted for its shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and chardonnays. The town of Mclaren Vale is at the centre of this area and lies on the gentle, west facing slopes of the Mount Lofty Ranges. There are more than fifty wineries throughout the region, ranging from very large to very small, among them Chapel Hill, Hardy's Tintara, Haselgrove, Seaview and Wirra Wirra. In most of these wineries, the person at the cellar door is the person who makes the wine.

Another destination south of Adelaide and nestled on the foothills of the Mount Lofty Ranges is Langhorne Creek. This rapidly expanding wine region produces mostly red wines with Bleasdale Vineyards being the best-known winery.

About 130 kilometres north of Adelaide lies the vineyards of the Clare Valley where wine production dates back to 1852. The region produces fine table wines, including much of Australia's quality riesling. Four of the better-known wineries are Taylors, Leasingham, Sevenhill and Jim Barry but most of the current wineries are small family-owned operations.

The Riverland region, near the Victorian border, is famous for products that range from chardonnay and old-vine grenache to ouzo and brandy. The well-known wineries include Kingston Estate at Kingston-on-Murray and Angove's near Renmark. In the far south-east of the state lies the Coonawarra region, best known for its premium red and white table wines from a small area of rich, volcanic soil. The region produces most of the country's great cabernet sauvignon.

The established wineries of the area are Wynns, Mildara, Redman and Rouge Homme. Newer wineries include Haselgrove, Rymill, Balnaves and Hollicks. Padthaway Estate, just north of the Coonawarra, is another regular port of call for wine-lovers.

Winemaking is rapidly expanding throughout the state. The beautiful Adelaide Hills is home to Karl Seppelts Crand Cru Estate, Cumeracha Cellars, Hillstowe and Petaluma. New vineyards have also been established in the southern Eyre Peninsula, Kangaroo lsland, Koppamurra, Mount Benson, Adelaide Plains and Mount Gambier.