The Yarra Valley was Victoria's first wine growing district with a history stretching back 170 years. It is known as the birthplace of Victoria's wine industry. Vines were first planted in 1838 and viticulture spread rapidly through the 1860s and 1870s. However, increased demand for fortified wine saw Yarra Valley wine production cease in 1921. Replanting began in the late 1960s and by the early 1990s the area under vine passed the high point of the 19th century.

  

The Yarra Valley is now recognised as one of Australia's foremost cool climate regions, capable of making classic styles from a wide range of varieties. The Yarra Valley offers sparkling wine, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. The regional emphasis on the quality and flavour of wine has spread to the local produce grown in the same fertile soil and expertly tended. Expect fine contemporary fare and ambient dining in some of the most picturesque settings in Victoria.

 

Regional Checklist:

  • Victoria 's first wine growing district, established in 1838.
  • The Yarra Valley is located less than one hour's drive east of Melbourne.
  • The region is currently home to more than 80 wineries.
  • Soil ranges from sandy clay loam to well-drained volcanic red.
  • One of Australia’s leading cool climate wine regions.
  • Renowned for production of premiumChardonnay and Pinot Noir.
  • Other principal grape varieties Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.

Regional website:
www.wineyarravalley.com.au

Climate:

The Yarra Valley is one of Australia's coolest regions, with elevation varying from 50 metres to 400 metres. Rainfall is winter/spring dominant, with the summer relatively cool, dry and humid. There is limited maritime influence. The small diurnal temperature range reflects the proximity of the sea. Frost is rarely a problem, but can affect the lower vineyards on the valley floor from time to time. With a seven-month growing season, rainfall of 750-950 millimetres and restricted water holding capacity in some soils, irrigation is considered essential − although the extent of its use does vary significantly between producers.

Soil:
There are two basic soil types. The traditional areas on the northern side of the valley are grey to grey-brown in colour on the surface and range from loamy sand to clay loam in consistency with red-brown clay subsoils, frequently impregnated with rock. Most are relatively acidic and low in fertility, but are generally well drained.  The other major soil type is the immensely deep and fertile red volcanic soil to be found at Seville, Hoddles Creek and elsewhere on the southern (Warburton) side of the valley. Great care in cultivation should be taken with the latter soil type to devigorate vines planted in it, so that they produce quality fruit and not excessive foliage.

Wines: 
Chardonnay: In the past ten years, the quality and range of style has increased dramatically. While there is a distinctive regional melon, fig and white peach flavour profile to all Yarra Valley Chardonnays, there is tremendous diversity in weight, texture and richness that reflects vintage variation and differing winemaking philosophies/techniques.

Cabernet Sauvignon: As is the case on the Mornington Peninsula, Cabernet Sauvignon is usually blended with up to 20%, sometimes more, of Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wines are often elegant and can vary from light-bodied through to full-bodied. The common feature is the softness of the tannins − they are almost silky. Despite the smoothness of the tannins, the wines do have a good ability to age.

Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir takes pride of place amongst the red varieties in the Yarra Valley. It has won the reputation of being one of Australia's renowned Pinot Noir regions. Many appreciate its haunting delicacy and surprising length of flavour. The strawberry plum spectrum of fruit flavours are the most common to be found in Yarra Valley Pinot Noir.

Shiraz: Appropriate site selection is critical. The warm, north-facing slopes are highly desirable and capable of producing intensely coloured and flavoured wines, redolent of black cherry spice and pepper. They are never too extracted or alcoholic and have fine, silky tannins.

Vital Statistics:
Map Coordinates:                                     37° 49'S 145°22”E (Lilydale, Victoria)
Altitude:                                                  50-400 metres (164 - 1312 feet) 
Heat degree days, October - April:             1250-1352 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2 ºF) but otherwise not adjusted) 
Growing season rainfall, October - April:    400 millimetres (15.8inches) 
Mean January temperature:                       17.9-19.4°C (64.2-67°F) 
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm:   Average 55% 
Harvest:                                                  Early March - early May


 

Giant Steps Vignerons, Yarra Valley, Victoria

Great wines are made in the vineyard! At Giant Steps, they passionately explore single vineyard wines within the Yarra Valley, drawing from various sites within this long established, cool-climate region. At their own Sexton Vineyard, high in the Warramate Ranges, they employ biodynamic principles − not for marketing spin (we don’t claim it) −  but to encourage the vineyard and its microflora to express themselves, rather than manipulate them.

"We hand tender, hand pick and hand process our grapes and wine, remaining intimately involved throughout the process. At the same time, we adopt a non-interventionist approach as much as possible by avoiding the addition of cultured yeasts, making minimal use of sulphur and following oxidative practices within our gravity flow winery.

"Our wines are taken to market under the specific vineyard name from which they originated, highlighting the differences between sites within the region. The wines are distinguished by their microclimate, varietal clone and cultural practices, whilst simultaneously demonstrating a common thread between vineyards of the region. Ultimately, it’s all about the Yarra Valley.

"We believe it is crucial that the approach to wine is team focused; owner, vigneron, winemaker and marketer ─ not necessarily in that order! We don’t offer any individual regional hero, but rather our team and our vineyards."

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