The Yarra Valley is recognised as one of Australia's foremost cool climate wine producing areas. Due to the diversity of terroir within the region, they are in the enviable position of being able to produce a range of classic wine styles from a wide range of grape varieties.
The Yarra Valley was Victoria's first wine growing district - with a history stretching back over 160 years. Vines were first planted in 1838, and viticulture spread rapidly through the 1860s and 1870s. However, increased demand for 'fortified wines' saw Yarra Valley wine production cease in 1921. Replanting began in the late 1960s and by the early 1990s the area under vines passed the high point of the 19th century. The Yarra Valley wine region is located or begins just 45 kilometres east of Melbourne's CBD.
This large wine region is bordered by the towns of Gembrook in the south, Kinglake in the north, Wantirna in the west and Mount Gregory in the east. Victoria's Yarra Valley wine region is a legally defined Geographical Indication (GI) - designed to protect the use of the regional name under international law. Therefore wine which is labelled ‘Yarra Valley’ must consist of at least 85% Yarra Valley fruit.
The soils of the middle area of the Yarra Valley are ancient, mountain-derived sandy clay loams interspersed with broken sandstone. The other soils are much younger in origin and are a brilliantly coloured red volcanic soil found in both the Upper and Lower Yarra Valley. The Yarra Valley has cooler growing conditions in relation to the rest of Australia's viticultural regions - (example: the region is cooler than Bordeaux but warmer than Burgundy) - with an elevation that varies from 50 metres to 400 metres.
Due to its location there is limited maritime influence and the small diurnal temperature range reflects the proximity to the sea. Frost is rarely a problem, but can affect the lower vineyards on the valley floor. The total area under vine as of 2011 was approximately 2,492 hectares - and with some 160 registered wineries in the region.
Chardonnay is the Yarra Valley's most widely planted white grape variety producing a range of styles. From complex, oaked wines to elegant restrained styles - also blended with Pinot Noir to form the base wine for quality sparkling wine. Pinot Noir is the most widely planted red grape variety, whilst a challenge to grow, Pinot Noir thrives in the Yarra's cool climate. The Yarra Valley wine region also offers and produces world class Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz.