Famous Australian Vineyards
Monday, 10 October 2011
The Australian wine scene is made up of a combination of small boutique wineries experimenting with new varietals and large labels who sell around the world and have become established global brands. The ten biggest wineries in Australia, in fact, are responsible for more than half of all the country’s wine production. These are five names to watch out for:
Based in the Barossa Valley and established in 1966 by Wolfgang Blass, a German immigrant with a masters degree in winemaking, the Wolf Blass label has established itself as one of Australia’s foremost brands. It’s best known for its range of Wolf Blass Platinum Label wines, available as Cabernet Sauvignons and Shiraz. The company’s wines have picked up more than 3,000 awards and Wolf Blass has been named International Winemaker of the Year.
Also based in the Barossa Valley, but a lot older than Wolf Blass, having been founded in 1851, Seppelt was already Australia’s largest wine company in 1900. While it has more than 150 years of winemaking experience to draw on, it also enjoys the foresight of Oscar Benno Seppelt, the founder Joseph Seppelt’s son. In 1878, Benno chose a 500 litre barrel of port-style wine and declared that it would be allowed to mature for a hundred years. The company has continued the tradition every year since, opening the first barrel of Seppeltfield’s signature 100-year-old Para Tawney port in 1978.
Based on both the Magill Estate near Adelaide, where the label grows Shiraz, and the Barossa Valley, where the company’s nearly 1700 acres grow a range of Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, as well as Mataro, Grenache, Semillon, Chardonnay and Sangiovese, Penfolds is another of Australia’s oldest wineries. The vinery was founded in 1844 by Dr. Christopher Rawson Penfold, an English doctor who arrived in Australia with vine cuttings from southern France, convinced that wine brought important medical benefits. Today, the company, now owned by Treasury Wine Estates, produces 1.4 million cases a year.
Established as late as 1969, Rosemount represents one of Australia’s new labels — and the kind of revolution that has affected New World wines in the last decades. Based in the Hunter Valley and South Australia, and like Penfolds, owned by Treasury Wine Estates, the label is now the second biggest selling Australian wine in the United States. Rosemount is best known for its innovation. In 2007, the company released its O label — a range of wines designed to be served over ice.
In 2009, Hardys Wines was named the most powerful Australian wine brand for the fourth year in a row. The company was founded in 1854 when English immigrant Thomas Hardy planted his first vineyard — mostly Shiraz and Grenache — on the banks of the River Torrens. The company now distributes its wines around the world, with six labels sold in the United States including a range of Nottage Hill made up of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz wines. Alix Hardy’s return to the company after working in the wine business in Europe marks the sixth generation of Hardys in the winery.