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Wine regions - Adelaide Hills

Adelaide Hills   South Australia

Piccadilly Valley 

The Adelaide Hills is one of Australia's most charming wine regions. Not only is the region beautiful, but it is also home to a large number of premium wine and food producers.

Circuiting the eastern boundary of the city of Adelaide, the Adelaide Hills are part of the Mount Lofty Ranges. Stretching from the Barossa and Eden Valleys in the north to the boundaries of McLaren Vale and Langhorne Creek in the south, the Adelaide Hills is one of South Australia's largest wine regions, as well as the oldest. The first vines were planted in the Hills in 1839, three years after South Australia was declared a state. A case of that wine was delivered to Queen Victoria in 1844. In 1842, the arrival of German pioneers saw more plantings around the new settlement of Hahndorf. The number of wineries now numbers over fifty, with over 200 grape growers providing much of this highly esteemed fruit.

Adelaide Hills from Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens

Adelaide Hills from Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens

A three-lane freeway has recently been built bringing the region closer with a short twenty-minute drive to Mount Lofty. The climate is 5ºC cooler than on the neighbouring plains, making it a haven for many Adelaidians during the hot summers. Mount Lofty itself, rising to over 700 metres, acts as a rain shadow to the arid eastern plains, trapping the rain within its rolling hills. The lowest vineyards in the region are sited at an altitude of around 400 metres, and the annual rainfall can vary between 700 and 1250 millimetres per annum.

This cool climate is ideal for growing apples, pears, strawberries, and cherries, making it also ideal for Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and cool crisp Chardonnay. These are the predominant varieties grown successfully and proudly throughout the region. Other grape varieties grown in the region include Merlot, Shiraz, Semillon and Cabernet Sauvignon. Hills vignerons are also experimenting with some of the rarer varieties in Australia - Trollinger and Lemberger grapes from Germany, and Italian varieties Arneis, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.

The grapes grown in the region are mostly the earlier ripening varieties. The high altitude, the wet and cool spring, and dry summers allows the fruit to mature fully at a much slower pace than in other regions.

Due to its proximity to Adelaide, its cooler climate, and its feel of old English countryside meets lush Australian bush, the Adelaide Hills are a popular tourist destination. To cater for this it boasts many award-winning restaurants, boutique hotels and bed-and-breakfasts, as well as winery cellar doors managed by wine-savvy staff. The novel "German town" of Hahndorf is also located in the Adelaide Hills where the main street is lined with gingerbread-style shops selling wursts and cakes and confectionary of the most decadent kind.

Harvest time: mid to late April.

Sub Regions

Within this region are two sub-regions, Lenswood and the Piccadilly Valley. These two valleys are nestled within the hills at an elevation of between 480 - 700 metres, receiving a daily dose up to 10 hours of sunshine through the summer months, and four hours of sunshine during the winter.


Lenswood has always been famous for its apple orchards, and as you drive the winding roads through this picturesque part of the hills, apple orchards and roadside apple vendors are to be found everywhere.

Amongst this adornment lie the vines.

This region is known for its high-quality boutique wines, as well as the temperamental nature of the grapes as they respond to the cold and wet environment. The average January temperature is 25.2ºC, and 11.4ºC is the average for July, its coldest month. In winter, temperatures can regularly reach below 2ºC at night.

The best wines from Lenswood are Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, and Merlot. Some local wineries have also enjoyed success with sparkling wines, the high acid derived from the cooler growing region lending itself beautifully to this crisp style.

Piccadilly Valley

On the high eastern slopes of Mount Lofty, the Piccadilly Valley runs from Ashton through Uraidla and Summertown, to Bridgewater. Often beneath a fog or cloud when the rest of the hills are immersed in sunshine, the cold climate blended with a natural humidity creates a unique growing region. The growing period is long and the fruit ripening unhurried, leading it to be the latest harvest throughout the Hills.

Sparkling wines from high-acid Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are popular, and the table wines derived from the warmer north-facing slopes are of very high quality.

Parish Hills Wines vineyards in the mist

Parish Hills Wines vineyards in the mist

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Article by Julie Donnellan
July 2005

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