Barossa Valley: Australia's Flagship Wine Region

Barossa Valley is the best-known and, arguably, most important wine region in Australia. Any discussion of top Australian wineries or innovative winemakers will inevitably include some of the top names from Barossa Valley. The region is blessed with a wide variety of soils and a long history of family winemaking. At some Barossa Valley wineries, you can go back five or six generations to the area's original German-speaking settlers, ancestors of today's growers and winemakers. Barossa Valley's unique heritage is reflected in its top-quality wines, which come not only from large, long-established wineries but also from a new generation of boutique winemakers.

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Barossa Valley, like the rest of South Australia, is phylloxera-free, thanks to a strict quarantine and a strong commitment to working with residents and visitors to keep the destructive aphids out of the state. South Australia even has an official board dedicated to these tasks, the Phylloxera and Grape Industry Board of South Australia, which works with growers and winemakers to prevent infestations and promote use of phylloxera- and nematode-resistant rootstocks.

Barossa Valley History

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This part of South Australia was first settled by German-speaking immigrants from Silesia (now part of Poland), who fled their homeland in search of a life free from religious persecution. They brought with them not only their language and Lutheran faith, but also their work ethic and winemaking tradition.

Subsequent waves of newcomers to Barossa Valley included both English and German settlers, but it was the German-speakers who put the strongest stamp on the area. German culinary traditions and Lutheranism are still important aspects of the local culture; Barossa Valley even has its own German dialect, "Barossa Deutsch."

The first settlers planted grapes shortly after their 1842 arrival. Johann Gramp is said to have planted one of the first vineyards in the area, near Jacob's Creek (yes, it's real). The Aldenhoven brothers and Joseph Gilbert are also thought to be some of the first growers in the Barossa Valley. Around the same time, Dr. Christopher Penfold moved to the valley, bringing with him some vine cuttings from France. He planted them near his new house and became a grower as well as a physician. Several other vineyards were established in those early years, including Joseph Seppelt's Seppeltsfield and Auguste Fiedler's vineyard, now part of the Château Tanunda estate.

The valley's wine industry grew quickly. Fortunately, Barossa Valley escaped the 1870's phylloxera invasion that devastated neighboring Victoria's vineyards. As a result, growers were able to continue cultivating their old vines rather than replanting them with pest-resistant rootstocks.