Encompassing the watershed of the King River, this is an increasingly important grape growing region, albeit one of extremely varied terrain. It is fertile country, capable of producing high yields of good quality grapes across the full spectrum of traditional varieties from Chardonnay to Cabernet Sauvignon and also many Mediterranean varietals such as Prosecco and Sangiovese.
Apart from its scenic contribution as a grape growing region, the diversity of growing conditions provides a range of products from sparkling wines to fortified wines. Areas of the King Valley's homoclime are very similar to the grapegrowing areas around Alba in the Piedmont and Spain, encouraging the trend to Mediterranean varietals. The strong Italian farming and grapegrowing heritage in the region has also been a significant factor.
Other wine styles produced include Non Vintage Sparkling, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Sagrantino, Barbera, Dolcetto, Savagnin, Merlot and Tempranillo. King Valley is a wonderful destination in all seasons with cellar doors, restaurants and great outdoor activities all to be enjoyed.
King Valley has extremely varied terrain and is one of the highest wine grape growing areas in Australia.
The region is currently home to almost 25 wineries.
The region planted its first vines in the late 1800s.
It supplies grapes to a number of leading wineries across South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.
Soil types vary significantly, changing with altitude, slope and site characteristics.
Prosecco and Sangiovese are being developed as new regional flagship wines with many other Mediterranean varietals also being grown.
Premium and ultra premium wines are produced ranging from the sparkling wines through the spectrum of whites and dry reds to traditional Muscats and Ports.
The higher altitude climate is ideal for the production of fine sparkling wine.
The climate changes progressively and significantly from lower northern to higher southern elevations, with a progressive increase in rainfall and a decrease in heat summations. Thus, at Milawa the growing season rainfall is 329 millimetres (13 inches) but at Myrrhee and Whitfield, halfway up the valley at an elevation of 320 metres (1050 feet), it has risen to 442 millimetres (17 inches) while at Whitlands it is 630 millimetres (25 inches). Ripening is progressively delayed; the style of wine changes, and at the highest altitude only the earlier ripening white varieties are suited to table wines.
As one would expect, the soil types vary significantly throughout the valley, changing with altitude, slope and site characteristics. However, deep red clay loams abound, at times veering more to grey or brown in colour but having the same structure. Drainage is good, fertility high, and vigorous growth is encountered in virtually all sites.
Sangiovese (and other Mediterranean varietals): have been shown to be perfectly suited to the region’s cool climate, with the wines developing distinctive varietal characteristics.
Pinot Gris / Grigio: Both the Gris and Grigio style are produced in the valley. The Grigio wines boast fresh aromas of citrus and pear, with a palate of distinct savoury characters and a crisp finish thanks to the cool climate fruit. The French Gris style on the other hand is richer on the palate with an exquisite tang of tropical acids
Cabernet Sauvignon: This continues to be the most widely planted variety in the King Valley. Ripening readily, the Cabernet Sauvignon, the resultant wines are soft but flavoursome with flavours are in the sweet berry spectrum, with just a hint of mint and more herbaceous notes.
Sparkling Wines: Prosecco is being developed as the region’s new flagship sparkling wine while Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are principally utilised by many of Australia's leading sparkling winemakers as blend components. Brown Brothers vintage and non-vintage sparkling wines are entirely drawn from King Valley fruit, and have enjoyed substantial success at national wine shows in recent years.
Map Coordinates: 36º 20´S
Altitude: 155 - 860 metres (508 - 2821 feet)
Heat degree days, October - April: 1350 - 1580 (cut off at 19ºC (66.2ºF) but otherwise not adjusted)
Growing season rainfall, October - April: 640 - 1410 millimetres (25.1 - 55.5 inches)
Mean January temperature: 20.8 - 22.0º C (69 - 72º F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 36%
Harvest: Early March - late April
Ross Brown, CEO, Brown Brothers Milawa Vineyard, King Valley, Victoria
In more than 100 years of growing grapes and making wine, the Brown family has forged an enviable reputation, locally and abroad, as varietal wine specialists and viticulture and winemaking innovators. Although founded by John Francis Brown, it was under the guidance of his son John Charles Brown that Brown Brothers really established its reputation as a company willing to experiment with new grape varieties. This tradition was carried on by his sons, including Ross Brown.
"The opening of an experimental mini-winery, the “Kindergarten”, in the company's centenary year of 1989 enabled the family to give the small parcels of fruit grown on emerging vineyards the care and attention they deserved,” Ross says.
"The Brown family, driven by the next generation, are keeping the family tradition of innovative and passionate winemaking alive, with around 40 varietals produced and sold at our renowned cellar door. We are now considered a true pioneer in the industry after opening the door to many of the popular alternative varietals now being grown in Australia, among them Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Dolcetto and Tempranillo.
“Brown Brothers also was one of the first wineries in Australia to actively promote the enjoyment of wine with great food. This commitment is brought to life at our winery’s Epicurean Centre, where fresh gourmet food is prepared and served with a glass of perfectly matched Brown Brothers wine.”