The Barossa Valley is the epicenter of the premium wine industry in Australia. It is the historic home of the quintessential Australian style of Shiraz produced from century-old vines that is aged in American oak barrels. The Barossa Valley is also the largest fine wine region in Australia. The Barossa Valley along with the Eden Valley lie within the larger Barossa Zone, requiring care to distinguish between the valley and the larger zone whose wines may be labeled simply as “Barossa,” with no mention of “Valley”.
The Barossa Valley experiences a warm continental climate and is generally level, having only minor variations of slope and aspect due to the few hills and valleys that crisscross the larger valley floor. Soils range from deep clay loam to more sandy soils, with water deep underground, crucial for surface irrigation during the dry summer months.
The tradition of grape growing in the Barossa can be traced to the mid-19th century when English colonists settled in the area alongside German Lutheran immigrants who were fleeing religious persecution in Prussia. Many of the companies that still dominate the Barossa and the larger Australian wine market trace their origin to this time period, including Henschke and Yalumba. German immigrants in particular brought their winemaking traditions from Europe to Barossa, and still, continue to pass down their winemaking tradition to future generations. 80% of production is dedicated to red varietals, led by Shiraz, with smaller amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon and other Rhône varietals.
Barossa remains phylloxera-free, with vineyards that have some of the oldest vines anywhere on earth. The oldest Syrah vines are found in the Barossa, dating back to 1843, and it is presumed that the oldest Grenache and Mourvèdre vines are located here as well. In total, the Barossa has over 50 hectares (124 acres) of vines that are over 100 years old. To recognize this spectacular piece of history, the Barossa Old Vine Charter was created to classify wines that come from old vines (minimum 35 years old), survivor vines (minimum 70 years old), centenarian vines (minimum 100 years old), and ancestor vines (minimum 125 years old). Given the availability of ultra-concentrated fruit that comes from such old vines, it is no surprise that the benchmark style of Barossa Valley displays high levels of ripeness, extract, and intense flavors of fig, prune, and cocoa, with polished, silky tannins.