With vineyards scattered across rolling hills, sharing the terrain with grazing land, rocky outcrops and ancient gums. Eden Valley is the Barossa’s Garden of Eden. Defined by the cool climate, ancient soils and later ripening, Eden Valley wines are distinctive in their character, displaying wonderful aromatics, elegance, complexity and finesse.
Most famous for its Riesling, Eden Valley also produces world class Shiraz and a range of traditional and alternative varieties. This is cool climate Barossa. With a wine making history dating back to 1847, Eden Valley is home to some of the world’s oldest Shiraz and Riesling vineyards. Traditional grape growing continues with a focus on sustainability and authenticity, with fifth and sixth generations of the original settlers continuing to apply their craft. The region is home to such renowned Shiraz vineyards as Henschke's Hill of Grace and Mount Edelstone and the Chardonnay vineyards of Mountadam. The main wine styles produced include Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.
Viticulture commenced in the valley in 1842.
The region is currently home to more than 20 wineries.
The region neighbours the Barossa Valley.
Terrain is hilly with altitude ranging from 380-550 metres (1247-1804 feet).
Soils range from sandy loam, to clay loam littered with gravel.
Eden Valley is famous for production of premium Riesling.
Principal grape varieties Shiraz, Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
Altitude, aspect and slope are all important in determining mesoclimate in this hilly region. Therefore, at an altitude of around 500 metres (1640 feet) the Pewsey Vale, Heggies and High Eden vineyards at the southern end of the Eden Valley are considerably cooler than the more northerly Henschke vineyards at an elevation of 380 to 400 metres (1247 to 1312 feet) around Keyneton. Overall growing season temperatures are significantly lower than those of the Barossa Valley, and the final stages of ripening and harvesting take place in much cooler conditions.
Rolling, exposed hills with moderately steep gradients are commonplace and the correct match of site and variety is critical. As one might expect, given the varied terrain, there are a number of soil types. The most common range from grey to brown in colour, and from loamy sand to clay loams. Ironstone gravels, quartz gravels and rock fragments are present in the surface and subsurface. These are well suited to dry land viticulture but there are also patches of weaker sandy soils on the slopes, underlain by weathered mica-schists, which have reduced water-holding capacity.
Chardonnay: Chardonnay is a relative newcomer, with the first commercial vineyards in South Australia being established at Mountadam in 1973. The variety has proved to be highly successful and rich complex wines are being produced; their flavours range through a classic array of melon, fig and cashew.
Riesling: The Eden Valley also has a proud Riesling tradition and is the most important white grape of the region. The wines have strong lime juice aromas with great intensity of flavour on the palate. As the wines age, marmalade and toasty nuances appear on nose and palate. Good Eden Valley Riesling will take ten years or more to reach its peak.
Cabernet Sauvignon: The Cabernet Sauvignon produced from vineyards around the Eden Valley village is of the highest quality, with perfectly ripened cassis-accented fruit flavours. These contrast with wine from higher, cooler sites that have more elegant undertones of green leaf and dark berry characters.
Shiraz: Shiraz ranks as the most important red grape and is often the most highly regarded wine of the region. Contrary to expectations, the wines rarely show the spicy and peppery characters of cool climate Shiraz from other parts of southern Australia. Rather, they tend to more luscious plum and blackberry fruit characters, with touches of liquorice and more gamey, forest characters. Structurally, the wines are very smooth, with ripe tannins that are integrated and well balanced, guaranteeing a long life.
Map Coordinates: 34° 35' S
Altitude: 380-550 (1247-1804 feet)
Heat degree days, October -April: 1390
Growing season rainfall, October-April: 280 millimetres (11 inches)
Mean January temperature: 19.4°C (67°F)
Relative humidity, October - April, 3 pm: Average 44%
Harvest: Mid March - end April/Early May
Irvine Wines, Eden Valley, South Australia
Eden Valley is situated just one and a half hours north-east of Adelaide, lies in a north-south direction in the hills above the Barossa Valley, and is the home of an iconic Merlot. Eden Valley is an area as well as the name of the major township in the centre. As a district it is cooler (by 5 degrees C) and wetter (by 150millimetres) and has more ancient soils than the Barossa Valley.
These ancient soils are relatively infertile, tending towards sandy loams interspersed with quartz and mica schist reefs. By nature the soil is acidic, and we believe that this is a highly important factor in giving the wines of the Eden Valley district the elegance of taste and length of palate. The grapes ripen about three weeks later than in the Barossa and are consequently ripening in a much cooler part of the year – late March through to early May.
"How then would these conditions suit the growing of Merlot for premium wine? This was unknown to us until 1983, when the first of our Merlot vines were planted in this area. The consequent success of Merlot in Eden Valley has come about mostly because of the climatic conditions that pervade in the area, together with careful winemaking.
"The discovery of this combination over the past 30 years fits into the history of Eden Valley, with its superb Rieslings, Shiraz and now the newer varieties Chardonnay, Viognier and Albarino.
"The overall character of the wines gives clear illustrations of the varieties involved, with long flavours, elegance and rich characters – wines that will age most gracefully.
"As such then it is a privilege for Irvine Wines to be part of the Eden Valley."