With over 90 wine labels and 48 cellar doors, Adelaide Hills has become a center for small artisan winemakers keen to produce elegant, long lasting wines.
The Adelaide Hills is Australia's most vibrant cool climate wine region. It is recognized internationally for its distinctive premium wines, viticulture and exquisite scenery.
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When South Australia was recognized as a free “non-convict” colony, it enticed shiploads of optimistic small farmers, artisans and business people, keen to make their fortune. Most of the new settlers were from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland and many established villages such as Stirling, Crafers and Bridgewater in the cool, green park-like environment of the hills, which reminded them of home. By 1839, German and Silesian emigrants were also arriving, fleeing religious persecution in Old Europe, and they started their own European style villages at Hahndorf and Lobethal.
The first South Australian vineyard was planted in 1836 by a settler name John Barton Hack in Chichester Gardens, North Adelaide. They were no doubt European vine cuttings such as Grenache or Shiraz, gathered in Cape Town and hastily planted on arrival.
One of the major influences on colonial Adelaide Hills winemaking was Edmund Mazure, a French trained winemaker who was employed by Sir Samuel Davenport at Beaumont in 1884. He went on to work at Young's Kanmantoo vineyard and Auldana Vineyards where he pioneered method champenoise champagne and sparkling burgundy - a unique Australian red wine style. From 1840 to 1900 a total of 225 grape growers practiced viticulture and winemaking in the central Mount Lofty Ranges.
However in the early 1900s, due to the removal of Imperial Preference, which had favoured exports of Australian produce to the United Kingdom, many of the early vineyards and wineries went bankrupt. For the next 50 years the land was used for dairying, beef cattle, sheep and fruit and vegetable growing.
The arrival of Brian Croser marked the birth of Adelaide Hills region as it is today. He established Petaluma, the most famous vineyard of the region. Stephen George, Geoff Weaver, Michael Hill Smith and Martin Shaw also helped on the revival in the 1970s and 1980s by recognising the cool climate characteristics of the region.
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The cooler climate of the Adelaide Hills defines the region, offering a distinct point of difference to many other regions in South Australia. Rainfall varies throughout the region, increasing at higher elevations, but is mainly dominant during winter and spring.
The Adelaide Hills Wine Region includes all areas of the Adelaide Hills that have an elevation greater than 300m. Elevation has two major impacts on grape growing; temperature and rainfall. Elevation results in cooler temperatures as, for every 100 metres increase in height, the temperature drops by roughly 0.5°C. This is particularly important at night in the final stages of ripening when colour and flavour compounds are enhanced by cool conditions. Elevation also results in higher rainfall when clouds are lifted as they move across the hills.
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The Adelaide Hills is a popular day-trip location for locals known for its breathtaking views, quaint country villages, roadside produce stalls, rolling vineyards and wide open countryside. It is a picturesque region, particularly in Autumn, and is still a largely undiscovered treasure.
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It’s a good way to travel in the region because it is very accessible. By car, it takes around 20 minutes’ drive from the city of Adelaide via the six-lane South Eastern Freeway which link Adelaide to Melbourne. A taxi from the city is affordable ($35 one way) and a good option if you are a group of 3 or 4 persons. There’s also a daily bus service that travels at regular intervals from the Adelaide CBD to major townships in the Adelaide Hills.
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The region is well-known for its beauty in Autumn because of the spectacular deciduous trees around towns. Conducive to outdoor activity, Adelaide bases a large number of events during this season which bring a sense of liveliness all over the city.