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.
This white variety originated in Burgundy, but is now grown around the world. Its flexibility to thrive in many regions translates to wide flavor profile in the market. Chardonnay is commonly used in making Champagne and sparkling wines.