The fourth largest producer in the world, Australia’s wines can easily be sampled after a visit to the local supermarket but there are plenty of reasons to get closer to the source and head down under for a wine tour.
Both working travellers and tourists will benefit in looking for cheap Australian holidays to enrich either their palette or their pocket in the antipodean nation’s best wine regions.
Barossa Valley, South Australia
The square spires of the Lutheran churches sprinkled throughout the landscape of the Barossa Valley are a testament to the region’s strong German heritage. These German settlers bought their wine making skills with them when they fled from persecution in their homeland in the 1840s. Jacobs Creek, Yalumba and Wolf Blass are among the most famous names produced here. Harvest time is from late February to late April.
Riverland, South Australia
Riverland’s 1,300 vineyards and farms grow half of Australia’s grapes, which are then sent on to the large wine companies in other parts of Australia to produce exported ‘critter wine’ – the term given to labels inspired by indigenous animals. Working travellers should arrive in mid February for a month’s harvest employment.
The four to six week long harvest in Mildura supplies 80 per cent of Victoria’s grape production.12,000 workers are needed during this time to bring in the crops while other harvests, particularly citrus and vegetables also attract fruit picking labour the rest of the year. Many farmers in the area can be relied on to provide accommodation to workers.
Hunter Valley, New South Wales
The Hunter grape harvest is one of Australia’s latest usually scheduled to begin in late March and run to late April. Ever since James Busby, the father of Australian wine, planted some of the first vines in 1825 most Hunter wine has been drunk in Sydney, less than a hundred miles away. The Hunter Valley is most famous for its Semillon.
Riverina, New South Wales
The largest wine producing area in New South Wales (and second in Australia), the alluvial soils surrounding the cities of Wagga Wagga, Griffith and Albury have helped many working travellers top up their travel funds. Italian immigrants added their expertise to the area’s fledgling wine industry after World War Two while the Murrin Bridge Aboriginal community produced Australia’s first indigenous produced label in 2001.
Margaret River Valley, Western Australia
Wine tourism in Margaret River got off to a grand start in 1985 when the London Philharmonic Orchestra were invited to perform in the vineyard of the Leeuwin Estate. This annual event has since seen performances by Shirley Bassey and Ray Charles. The area’s wines are also promoted each April at the Margaret River Wine Region. Working travellers should turn up a few months earlier to help bring in the grape harvest from February to April and perhaps stick around for winter pruning jobs in July and August. Back to tourism and the chocolate and fudge factories are two more reasons to visit the region.