Victoria is one of Australia’s smallest and coolest wine regions, yet one of the nation’s most dynamic and quality-oriented. Unlike many of Australia’s wine regions, which include many large, industrial producers, most Victoria producers are small, independently owned and crush fewer than 25 tons of grapes per year. With more than 600 wineries, Victoria has more producers than any other state, though it ranks third in production. Winemaking started in Victoria in the 1850s when Swiss immigrant Hubert de Castella recognized the area’s winemaking potential. There are many climates and topographies in Victoria, from dry, irrigated inland terroirs to cooler, higher regions. Top sub-appellations include Heathcote, Rutherglen and the Yarra Valley. Shiraz and Chardonnay are the principal grapes grown, though Viognier, Pinot Noir and Tannant are also grown. Of special note is the region’s history with sweet dessert wines made of Muscat. Some are called “Tokay” and are made from the Muscadelle grape. Red dessert, Madeira-style wines are also produced.
The Merlot grape is such a deep blue that it is named for the blackbird. It’s an early ripening grape and one of the primary varietals used In Bordeaux. Merlot is also grown in the "International style," which is harvested later to bring out more tannins and body.