Let’s talk about the Barossa Valley…
Published by Mark Pollard - 21st Jun 2016
The Barossa Valley is a very special place in the world of wine, let alone little old Australia. As my son would say, but why?
From being settled by Germans back in the late 1830s this region has had an affinity with wine. It has had its fair share of hard times as well as boom times but is now firmly entrenched in the world of wine as producing some, if not the best Shiraz wines anywhere in the world.
Located in South Australia about 56km North East of Adelaide, it has a relatively hot and dry climate that allows the renowned big fruit flavours in the Shiraz to shine through.
This warm to hot climate is what enabled the region to produce grapes for fortified wines that were all the rage back in the day. In fact, the Barossa supplied 25% of the grapes for all the wine sold in Australia at their height in 1930. However, World War 2 and the links with German ancestors along with the Depression, meant the Barossa Wine Industry collapsed. Until in the late 1940s when the first table wines were produced by Colin Gramp, bringing the region into another prosperous period when the first Penfolds Grange and Henschke Hill of Grace were produced. For the next 20 odd years, there was a boom in Barossa wine until a severe oversupply of grapes almost killed the region in the late 1970s. The Government lead Vine Pull Scheme paid growers to pull out their vines, some as old as 100 years old! Thankfully Peter Lehmann and a few other small producers had the foresight to create new small businesses and buy the grapes and kept the industry afloat.
So today the Barossa Valley still has some of the oldest vines in the world. Unlike most of the worlds’ vineyards that were killed by Phylloxera, Australia escaped by and large and so we have vines that are at least twice as old as saying those in France and Italy. This is what really makes the Barossa a very special place in the world of wine.
These old vines don’t produce very large yields but the grapes they do produce are packed full of flavour. Add to that there isn’t much rainfall in the Barossa, so without irrigation, which is very expensive, yields are kept low as it is!
As more and more people want a piece of Barossa demands have increased and that pushes up prices. High demand for a finite resource that comes off some of the oldest vines in the world = high prices!!
With the big retailers buying up any spare fruit and international demand, it is always a very difficult proposition to get amazing fruit year in year out. You either have to own a vineyard in the region or have a great, long term relationship with growers in the region. The bulk market is very expensive with questionable quality. This is why at Naked we haven’t had too many winemakers making us wine from the region, however, we have been working away for a few years biding our time and in the near future, we should see this come to fruition with very talented winemakers and fantastic wines that over deliver.
The Barossa really is a living treasure that we should all be proud of!
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