Australian Wine

Australia is an extremely important wine producing country, both in terms of quality and scale. In 2020, it produced 10.6 million hectolitres of wine, with approxiamtely a 60:40 split between red and white grape varieties. The most searched-for Australian wine on our database is Penfolds Grange Bin 95, a Shiraz (often with a small dash of Cabernet Sauvignon).
Wine-Searcher editorial  ·  Last updated 14-Jan-2022
Australia, an iconic 'New World' wine nation
©Jonathan Reeve

In 2015, there were just over 135,000 hectares (c. 334,000 acres) of vineyards in Australia. 30 percent of this was planted to Shiraz, 18 percent to Cabernet Sauvignon and 16 percent to Chardonnay. Merlot covered 6 percent and Sauvignon Blanc 5 percent.

Australia has developed a comprehensive appellation system. As of 2018 there were 65 designated wine regions. Readers can find more about the wine and labeling laws on our Australian wine label page.

Its vast size and huge range of climatic and geographical conditions, makes it one of the most versatile wine-growing countries in the world. Overall, the climate is affected by its southerly latitude, but regional features such as altitude and proximity to the oceans also play a significant role.

Wine is produced in all of Australia's six states. However, the vast majority is made in the southeast, in New South Wales, Victoria and particularly South Australia. The latter accounts for about half of the country's annual output.

Western Australia only accounts for around two percent of national production. However the best wineries are well known on export markets. The Bordeaux red blends of the Margaret River are the flagship wines of the state.

This variety of growing conditions results in a broad portfolio of wine styles. By way of illustration, blockbuster Shiraz is produced in the Barossa Valley in South Australia. The neighboring Eden Valley, at higher altitudes, is the home of many of Australia's best Rieslings. The Clare Valley portfolio also ranges from gutsy reds to elegant Riesling and Chardonnay.

Coastal influenced areas using cooler climate grapes include Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. Further north, the moderating influence of the sea on the Fleurieu Peninsula produces a Mediterranean climate. The portfolio of grape varieties reflects this. 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the mainland, Tasmania is best known for graceful Pinot Noir and sparkling wines.

The country has also played a major role in the globalization of wine. Many of its brands have a strong international presence, as do its well-trained and well-qualified wine professionals, who have spread their expertise to many corners of the world.

Australia has long been at the forefront of the New World wine renaissance, with a highly dedicated and professional industry based on research and development. Both Australia and the global wine industry have benefited from the technological advancements in wine-growing made by organizations such as the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI).

Looking backwards, the country has an impressive wine history. Many wine regions date back to the mid 19th Century. This does not compare to many European regions (and some New World ones). But the descendants of many founding families are still growing grapes. Different valleys or towns are often associated with immigration from a particular European country or province. This further adds to the diversity of Australian wine.

The country also boasts some of the oldest productive (ungrafted) grape vines in the world. Some were planted as far as the 1840s, and there are numerous century-old plots. The Barossa is a particular hot spot in this regard. Due to various factors including isolation, and the prevalance of sandy soils, the vineyards here did not experience wholesale devastation by phylloxera.

Frequently Asked Questions

Syrah is often known as Shiraz in Australia to indicate a slightly different style of wine. Although Syrah and Shiraz are the same grape variety, Syrah typically indicates a cool-climate more subtle style of wine, while Shiraz indicates a bigger and bolder warm-climate style. Historically, Shiraz refers to the wine produced around the city of Shiraz in the south of Iran.

Both have strong fruit and spice notes, with Syrah typically having softer fruit and notes of white pepper, while Shiraz has richer fruit and notes of black pepper.

The Barossa Valley in South Australia is home to a collection of old Shiraz vines planted on their own roots from pre-phylloxera cuttings, brought to Australia from France in the 1830s. Today, these are referred to as 'Heritage' clones and are a highly-valued genetic resource. After decades of cultivation, these vines have evolved in response to their environmental conditions to have an ideal genetic predisposition for vine health, bunch composition and vine balance.  

Food pairings that typically go well with Australian Shiraz are barbequed, grilled and roasted meats like beef and lamb. Braised vegetables and strong, hard cheeses can also make successful pairings.

Tasmania, the island state of Australia's south is home to the leading sparkling wine region of the country. The cool-climate has plenty of prevailing westerly winds and ample rainfall to create ideal terroir for the staple sparkling grape varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Notable Tasmanian sparkling producers include House of Arras, Jansz and Clover Hill.

However, it is the Yarra Valley that holds the title as Australia's pioneer sparkling wine region. In the mid-1980s the famous Moët and Chandon Champagne House expanded internationally into the Yarra Valley and exemplified region's potential for world-class sparkling wine production.

Other notable regions for sparkling wine from Australia include the Adelaide Hills, Macedon Ranges, Grampians and the Hunter Valley

The most popular wine produced in Australia is Penfolds Grange Bin 95 (until the 1989 vintage, labelled as Penfolds Grange Hermitage). This cult status wine is Australia's most sought-after with an unbroken line of vintages dating back to 1951. 

In terms of wine style, it is varietal Australian Shiraz that dominates almost every wine region in the country. 

Australian Wines
Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Critics' Score
Avg. Price
Wine Label of Penfolds Grange Bin 95, Australia
32nd in popularity
96 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 389 Cabernet - Shiraz, South Australia
118th in popularity
92 / 100
Wine Label of Jacob's Creek Classic Shiraz - Cabernet Sauvignon, South Eastern Australia
138th in popularity
85 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds St. Henri Shiraz, South Australia
244th in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 407 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
258th in popularity
91 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 707 Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
324th in popularity
94 / 100
Wine Label of Henschke Hill of Grace Shiraz, Eden Valley, Australia
354th in popularity
96 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds RWT - Bin 798 Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
373rd in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz, South Australia
522nd in popularity
90 / 100
Wine Label of Castlemaine XXXX Gold Lager Beer, Queensland, Australia
557th in popularity
Wine Label of Torbreck Runrig Shiraz - Viognier, Barossa Valley, Australia
560th in popularity
94 / 100
Wine Label of Rockford Basket Press Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
618th in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Glaetzer 'Amon-Ra' Shiraz, Barossa Valley, Australia
624th in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Clarendon Hills Astralis Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
639th in popularity
95 / 100
Wine Label of d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
704th in popularity
91 / 100
Wine Label of Leeuwin Estate Art Series Chardonnay, Margaret River, Australia
797th in popularity
94 / 100
Wine Label of Wynns Coonawarra Estate Black Label Cabernet Sauvignon, Coonawarra, Australia
958th in popularity
92 / 100
Wine Label of Henschke Mount Edelstone Shiraz, Eden Valley, Australia
1,027th in popularity
94 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz, Coonawarra, Australia
1,077th in popularity
90 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Bin 2 Shiraz - Mourvedre, South Australia
1,179th in popularity
90 / 100
Wine Label of Mount Mary Quintet Red Blend, Yarra Valley, Australia
1,200th in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz - Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia
1,383rd in popularity
87 / 100
Wine Label of Bass Phillip Premium Pinot Noir, Gippsland, Australia
1,401st in popularity
93 / 100
Wine Label of Mollydooker Carnival of Love Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia
1,418th in popularity
92 / 100
Wine Label of Seppeltsfield 'Para Liqueur' Vintage Tawny, Barossa Valley, Australia
1,466th in popularity
94 / 100
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.