New World wines are history in the making. Australia has been hard at work establishing itself as one of the ultimate wine tourism destinations in the world.
China is currently the largest export destination for Australian wines, totaling a staggering one billion dollars back in 2020.
Following close behind are the United States and the United Kingdom, making the Australian origin nearly as ubiquitous as French or Italian. How did Australia reach such an impressive standing?
If you’ve been curious to try New World wines, we’ve got the guide for you. Keep reading to learn about the history of the wines of Victoria, its massive wine regions, and family-owned wineries you can try today.
History of Australian Wines
Australia is one of the newer New World wine regions. While Chile and Argentina started in the 16th century, Australia came into the scene during the tail end of the 1700s.
The first wine regions were established through colonization. The most notable to emerge was Adelaide Hills and Hunter Valley, later expanding into over sixty wine regions.
Australia is unique in its climate, ranging from scorching hot to breezy and cool. This variety made it easy to plant several wine grapes and establish a varied identity compared to more specialized origins.
Australian wine growers are in a complex position nowadays. This country is seeing astronomical demand for high-quality, single-origin wines, but is also dealing with the impact of wine tariffs and climate change.
When you purchase a bottle of Australian wine from a family-owned business, you help nurture an industry overflowing with potential.
What Wines Does Australia Make?
Both Old World and New World regions have go-to wine grapes that suit the climate best. Australia generally favors Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Runner-ups include Pinot Noir and Sémillon. That said, with enough digging you’ll find dozens of grapes planted throughout Australia’s wine regions.
What is the Difference Between Syrah and Shiraz?
The short answer: there is no difference! Both Syrah and Shiraz are the same wine grape but grown in different regions. To make things more confusing, not all regions use consistent terminology.
Syrah is usually applied to the grape variety grown in France, Argentina, and Switzerland. Comparatively, Australia and South Africa tend to label the grape Shiraz. You may find the same region using both terms interchangeably.
Wine Regions of Victoria, Australia
Australia is a massive country, home to over sixty wine regions and at least 2,000 wineries. The sheer diversity on display means you could be drinking Australian wine exclusively and still find something new with every subsequent bottle.
Victoria is one of the smallest states in Australia, home to the country’s capital and many famous landmarks. Below are a few wine regions for you to consider before purchasing.
When wine drinkers think of a picturesque stunner of a wine region, the Victorian Alps are often the first to pop to mind. The Alpine Valleys are located northeast of Victoria, right next to Beech worth and King Valley.
Vast green hills and hot sun characterize this wine region, making it suitable for both table wine and tea.
If you want to enjoy wine from a cooler location, Yarra Valley is a solid starting point. This wine region is characterized by higher amounts of rainfall and mist than other areas of Australia.
Due to these lower temperatures, this region is well-suited to more hardy wine grapes like Chardonnay and Shiraz, but can still nurture sensitive varieties like Pinot Noir.
This wine region is significantly smaller and newer compared to other entries on this list, but it’s rapidly growing as a powerhouse in its own right. Beechworth’s complex soil is full of hearty minerals that result in award-winning wines.
Consider trying Chardonnay or Shiraz from the Beechworth wine region.
While many Australian wine regions have a variety of grapes to their name, some regions prefer to specialize. Heathcote is famed for its dedication to Shiraz, the dark-skinned red wine variety that originated in France.
If you want to step outside the box a little, you can still find Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends from Heathcote.
Altitude is everything when it comes to growing wine. Vineyards located on hills and mountains are able to receive stronger, more consistent sunlight. This exposure results in wines that many would call richer in both color and flavor.
King Valley boasts an impressive blend of tall hills and relatively cooler weather, creating wines that stand out as among the best in Australia. Expect to find a lot of Sangiovese and Prosecco from this region.
Wineries in Victoria, Australia
With so many wineries to choose from, getting started on your Australian wine journey is rather daunting. The wineries we choose are influenced by not just reputation, but how characteristic their portfolios are.
Australian wineries tend to specialize in Shiraz, often have sparkling wine options, and are overwhelmingly family-owned.
Established in 1974, Passing Clouds Winery is an older family-owned business with a proud history. They crafted their extensive portfolio through ongoing trial and error throughout Bendigo and the Macedon Ranges.
Fans of red wine will fall in love with Passing Clouds Winery’s portfolio. They offer an aged Shiraz and Pinot Noir as well as a Cabernet and Shiraz blend.
If you want to try a white wine, check out their deliciously oaky Chardonnay. Their above-average price point makes these wines an investment for a special occasion or knockout dinner.
Want more white wines alongside your red varieties? Mia Valley Estate adds a dash of the unexpected with a portfolio that travels all throughout Old World origins.
Setting up shop in 1999, Mia Valley Estate first got its start focusing on Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon in Heathcote.
They’ve since expanded their portfolio to include Viognier, Sémillon, and Riesling. Although they’ve faced a few setbacks due to floods, these winemakers have managed to rise above to create award-winning red blends.
Their 2010 Mia Mia (Shiraz/Cabernet Sauvignon) won the silver medal at the Melbourne International Wine Competition.
If you’re eager to try some wine off the beaten path, consider checking out their sparkling Shiraz. Not only is this bottle a rather rare sparkling red variety, but it’s also a limited edition.
With one of the most extensive wine portfolios on our list, Ulupna Winery is not for the faint of heart.
These winemakers have knocked it out of the park with wines that have garnered international acclaim in China and Germany.
Ulupna Winery boasts several Shiraz, some fortified and others limited edition. They also have Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and sparkling wines.
Their portfolio is split into several categories based on region and the winemaking process. Their Domain Label carries wine grown to represent the family’s roots, while their Viviana Ferrari Collection (VFC) taps into regions all throughout Australia.
Each wine comes with a plethora of details such as flavor notes, aroma, food matches, awards won, and the vineyard.
The Best Wines of Victoria, Australia
What are the best Australian wines? We believe the best wine boils down to your personal taste and what makes your senses sing.
We chose the wines on this list to give you a strong example of what makes Australian wines so distinctive. Many of these choices are Shiraz due to this grape’s popularity in the country, though we’ve added a few other wine types for variety!
Passing Clouds Winery Serpentine Shiraz 2019
Let’s start off the list with a limited edition wine that literally doesn’t come around every year. Passing Clouds Winery makes it clear off the bat you’re getting a once-in-a-lifetime experience with this bottle.
This bottle boasts a raspberry and plum aroma, spiced flavor notes, and a long finish. With over a year of aging in French oak barrels, consider saving this delectable bottle for a mushroom or beef-based dinner.
Mia Valley Estate 2007 Heathcote Reserve Shiraz
Are you curious to see what fine aging does to Shiraz? Mia Valley Estate has a bottle with fifteen years of aging to blow you away.
Classic plum and blackberry pair with a sharp licorice tang that’ll suit drinkers with unique palates. Consider trying their 2008 or 2010 bottles to explore the full depth of Shiraz.
Ulupna Winery Sparkling Chardonnay “1847” 2020
Want a wine bottle for a birthday or graduation day? This sparkling Chardonnay is a shout-out to the city of Melbourne, rooted in the very concept of the celebration itself.
This bottle blends tropical fruit like pineapple and lemon with softer peach notes, balanced enough to suit a variety of drinkers.
Brown Brothers Refreshingly Light Dry Rosé 2021
We haven’t forgotten about fans of rosé! Brown Brothers have crafted a stunningly light and refreshing sipping wine for people who want the flavor without too much alcohol.
This wine has strong grapefruit and watermelon notes, ideal for snacking or a casual barbecue. The alcohol volume is at just 9.0%, so sip away!
Campbells Wines Gewurz 2021
This rarer white wine grape is a festivity of floral and tropical fruit. If you’re trying to expand your white wine knowledge, this bottle is a fascinating step off the beaten path.
Sharp and crisp, this wine would pair nicely with a chicken or cheese-based dish.
How Should You Enjoy Wines From Victoria, Australia?
Every time you pop open a wine bottle, you’re entering a conversation. Your wine is in a constant state of expressing itself through color, aroma, mouthfeel, flavor, and finish.
Whether you buy a $10 bottle or a $100 bottle, there are many ways to enhance your tasting experience.
Pay Attention to Your Wine’s Temperature
The best temperature for your wine depends on its type. Red wine is most flavourful and aromatic between sixty to sixty-eight degrees (though half an hour of chilling prior can be great for more acidic red wines).
White wine often fares better at lower temperatures between forty to forty-five degrees. Many prefer to chill their Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio before drinking to enhance citrus or sweet fruit notes.
Consider Focusing on Specific Regions
Australian wine regions are so diverse and fascinating you can lose yourself entirely in this New World origin. The sheer size of the country means you can get some seriously unique takes on classic grapes.
For starters, Hunter Valley is considered a prime spot for Australian white wines. Barossa Valley and Yarra Valley are often chosen for their exceptional Pinot Noir.
Take a few minutes to ask yourself which wine types and grape varieties you’re most interested in, then pick a matching region. You’ll be amazed at what you find!
Pair Your Wine With Complimentary Food or Snacks
Food pairings create a delectable contrast with your wine’s dominant aroma and flavor notes. It’s also a good idea to drink wine with food so you don’t feel nauseous or get buzzed too fast.
Why Should I Try Victoria Wines?
Victoria wines are bursting with character and complexity. The massive size of this country and its plethora of wine regions make it an attractive starting point for budding wine lovers.
To date, Australia is in the top five largest wine exporters. Australian wines have faced setbacks ranging from floods to wine tariffs, but this New World region continues to blaze new paths for the wine industry. Victoria is a particularly keen location for carefully aged, limited edition wines.
Victoria, Australia has several wine regions to its name, such as Yarra Valley, Beechworth, and Alpine Valleys. Fans of red wine will fall in love with Australia’s commitment to Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
White wine fans aren’t forgotten, however, and have plenty of Chardonnay, Sémillon, and Sauvignon Blanc to choose from.
Want to learn about other New World wine regions? Check out our piece on Chile wines!