South East Australia

At quick glance, South Eastern Australia might be confused with the state of South Australia or thought of in the same vein as South West Australia Zone, a smaller, quality-driven region within Western Australia.  South Eastern Australia refers to a vast, multistate area that includes the whole of Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, and the winegrowing portions of both Queensland and South Australia.   This superzone extends 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) from end to end, and only leaves Western Australian vineyards out of its reach.  The motivation for such a broad geographic indication was to allow varietal wines whose grapes were harvested from multiple regions to carry a geographic indication, as required by European Union law for imported wine.  The practice of blending across regions had been previously developed in response to consumer demand for affordable, consistent wine that valued varietal typicity above geographic specificity.  This style of wine, produced in bulk quantities, quickly became the calling card for Australian wine exports, typified by brands Yellowtail and other large-scale labels.

The regions which lead the production of wine labeled as South Eastern Australia are Riverland, Riverina, and Murray Darling.  These three regions are all dominated by large tracts of land where cutting-edge technology and mechanization are utilized to decrease production costs and eliminate any uncertainty caused by challenges to a growing season.  Irrigation water from Australia’s largest river, the Murray River, allows the existence of these wine regions in otherwise arid and sparsely populated expanses of Australia’s interior.  The ongoing effects of climate change, with increasingly prolonged periods of drought, have become an increasing challenge for the wines of South Eastern Australia.

Besides the value-driven varietal wines that have made South Eastern Australia famous, there is one additional use of the appellation that is of note.  In some cases, premium wine producers will utilize the appellation for grapes from famous regions like Barossa or Coonawarra, which supplement other products in a portfolio.  The source material may still be of the finest quality, but blending across regional boundaries requires the flexibility offered by this upper zone. Though the wine may still be offered for significantly higher prices than bulk wine, it may nevertheless carry the same geographical indication.

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