Victorian wine

Victorian wine is wine made in the Australian state of Victoria. With over 600 wineries, Victoria has more wine producers than any other Australian wine-producing state but ranks third in overall wine production due to the lack of a mass bulk wine-producing area like South Australia's Riverland and New South Wales's Riverina. Viticulture has existed in Victoria since the 19th century and experienced a high point in the 1890s when the region produced more than half of all wine produced in Australia. The phylloxera epidemic that soon followed took a hard toll on the Victoria wine industry which did not fully recover till the 1950s.

Today winemaking is spread out across the state and features premier wine regions such as Heathcote, Rutherglen and the Yarra Valley. Single varietal wines produced in the region include the Australian mainstays of Shiraz and Chardonnay as well as the more obscure Viognier, Pinot noir, Graciano and Tannat. The style of wine ranges from full body red wine to Madeira-like fortified wines such as Liqueur Muscat.[1]


A Victorian Sauvignon blanc.

Some of the earliest commercial plantings in Victoria were near Yering and established by Hubert de Castella, a Swiss immigrant who came to the region in 1854. The devastation of France's vineyards by the phylloxera louse opened up an opportunity for the British wine market with traditionally heavily favored French wine. Castella was very ambitious and laid out his plans for Victoria to produce enough wine to supply all of England's needs in his treatises John Bull's vineyard. Unfortunately before Castella's grand plan could be fully realized, phylloxera made its own way to Australia and the viticultural setback was compounded with the development of a domestic temperance movement as well as economic uncertainty and labor shortages during the first World War.[1]

Early in Victoria's wine history, most of the wine industry was settled in the cool southern coastal regions around Melbourne. At the turn of the 20th century, focus began to move to the warmer northeastern zone around Rutherglen. The region began to establish a reputation for its sweet, fortified wines made from late harvest grapes that are shriveled to near raisins and then spend several months (or years) aging in oak barrels stored inside a hot tin shed that acts like an oven. The unique nature of these Liqueur Muscat and Liqueur Tokay helped sustain this part of the Victoria wine industry till the country wide wine renaissance of the 1950-1960s.[1]

Wine regions

Location of Victoria within Australia.
Victoria's wine zones.

Since the 1960s, Australia's labeling laws have centered on an appellation system that distinguishes the geographic origins of the grape. Under these laws at least 85% of the grapes must be from the region that is designated on the wine label. In the late 1990s more definitive boundaries were established that divided Australia up into Geographic Indications (GI) known as zones, regions and subregions.[2] The wine zones of Victoria are Central Victoria, North East Victoria, North West Victoria, Western Victoria, Port Phillip and Gippsland.[1]

Gippsland is one of the newest and least developed wine regions in Victoria. Serious planting did not begin till the late 1970s. Located to the east of the Mornington Peninsula, the region is current dominated with Pinot noir and Chardonnay plantings.[3] Sparkling wine has shown some potential here with the Chardonnay and Pinot noir grapes showing a bit of spiciness that adds complexity to the wine.[4]

Central Victoria

An Australian Shiraz-Viognier made in Victoria through a collaboration with Terlato and Chapoutier.

North East Victoria

North West Victoria

The North West Victoria zone is the most similar Victorian wine region to South Australia's Riverland in that generous irrigation sources provides for high yielding production. Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay was first produced in this region, and it produces some of the grapes for Yellow Tail.[1]

Western Victoria

The geography of Western Victoria covers flat pastures and granite escarpment. With low annual rainfall, the area relies heavily on irrigation. Springtime frost is a significant viticulture hazard as is ripening during the cool summers. Winters are normally cold and wet. The far southwest of the west has more of a maritime climate.[4]

Port Phillip

The Port Phillip zone includes the five regions clustered around Melbourne. The climate of this more closely resembles Bordeaux than in other Australia wine regions yet it is more thoroughly planted with Burgundy wine varieties like a Pinot noir and Chardonnay. Other areas are planted with Shiraz.[1]

Sparkling wines and a still Pinot noir wine from Domaine Chandon's Yarra Valley winery.

See also



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 733-734 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6
  2. J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 47-48 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 J. Robinson Jancis Robinson's Wine Course Third Edition pg 318-319 Abbeville Press 2003 ISBN 0-7892-0883-0
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 C. Fallis, editor The Encyclopedic Atlas of Wine pg 423-429 Global Book Publishing 2006 ISBN 1-74048-050-3


  • Halliday, James (1985). The Australian Wine Compendium. North Ryde, NSW: Angus & Robertson. pp. 1–6, 133–276. ISBN 0207151377. 
  • Halliday, James (2008). James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia (rev. ed.). Prahran, Vic: Hardie Grant Books. pp. 1–81, 82–169. ISBN 9781740666855. 

External links

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