South Australia


South Australian Wines Regions

South Australia is home to some of our most iconic and best-loved wine regions. Producers in the historic Barossa Valley, dynamic McLaren Vale and esteemed Coonawarra, for example, have long enthralled wine lovers with their trademark, fruit-forward red wines. They are among the regions that have collectively helped put Australia on the world wine map. While these regions’ reputations deservedly remain, a quiet evolution of wine styles and addition of other flagship varieties has meant there has been enormous change in recent times.

These coveted regions can no longer be summed up by any one wine or style. The Adelaide Hills, Wendouree and Riverland are just the other hotbeds of innovation, with some of the country’s most experimental producers between them. From cool-climate pinot noir to minimal intervention styles and food-friendly alternatives, the diversity is rife.

Reds may have historically stolen the spotlight, but Eden Valley and Clare Valley are responsible for some of Australia’s finest rieslings, while the rugged, maritime climates of various South Australian regions help produce fine chardonnay, among others. There is so much to discover.

Discover the the wine regions of South Australia with James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia

Victoria may have more wineries and regions, New South Wales more zones, and Western Australia may have the largest single zone, but South Australia still rightly calls itself the wine State. It has 44 per cent of the nation’s vineyards, is responsible for 47 per cent of the annual crush and makes 48 per cent of the annual wine output (it is a nett buyer of grapes and bulk wine from the other States). It was not always thus: in 1889, at the height of Victoria’s production (before the onset of phylloxera), South Australia produced 2.29 million litres compared with Victoria’s 7.1 million litres. Federation (which removed State duties) and the progressive opening of the Riverland areas along the Murray River led to an all-time high share of 80 per cent by South Australia in 1946. By the 1980s South Australia’s contribution to the national make varied between 58 per cent and 65 per cent, according to the vagaries of vintage.

In 1991 it was responsible for 51 per cent of the crush, so it might seem there has been little change. In fact, in that year Australia made 394 million litres of wine; in 2004 the total was 1432 million litres. This was the first of three consecutive vintages of above average yields, leading to the wine surplus that hung over the industry for the rest of the decade. In 2011 the volume fell to 1109 million litres. With the exception of the Far North Zone (and its single region, the Southern Flinders Ranges), all the viticultural activity huddles in the extreme south-eastern corner of the State. This may suggest a degree of homogeneity in varietal choice and wine style, when nothing could be further from the truth.

South Australia Facts

South Australia Wine Regions 33
South Australia Wineries 987
South Australia Tasting Notes 62700