Victoria

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Victoria is a relatively small, yet viticulturally important state of Australia. Located in the southeast corner of the continent, a cool, ocean-influenced climate has given Victorian wine an image at odds with Australia's famous Barossa ShirazPinot Noir and Chardonnay rank among the state's most important grape varieties, making both still and sparkling wines. And while Shiraz is also important, it tends to be more savoury and spicy than the jammy, fruit-driven Shiraz from South Australia. Victoria is also home to some of Australia's most important dessert wines, namely the fortified Muscat and Topaque wines from Rutherglen and Glenrowan.

Like many state-level wine regions, Victoria has a diversity of terroir that leads to a varied range of wine styles. In the south, the vineyards are cooled by the Bass Strait that divides Victoria from Tasmania, and the large Port Phillip Bay where the state capital Melbourne is located. Here, Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula make some of the state's most famous wines. The Great Dividing Range finds its southernmost foothills in the northeast of the state, and GIs (Geographical Indications) like King Valley, Beechworth and the Strathbogie Ranges have altitude as their main heat-tempering characteristic.

Along the state's northern border with New South Wales is where the wines get closer in style to their South Australian counterparts. Central Victoria's flat topography tends to be warmer and drier than the rest of the state, giving richer, more fruit-driven styles of wine. Bendigo, Goulburn Valley and to an extent Heathcote are all better known for their Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon wines, leaving the cooler-climate varieties to Victoria's southernmost GIs. To the west, the Grampians and Pyrenees regions are once again located at altitudes that beget cooler styles of wine: indeed, the sub-region of Great Western is home to the sparkling Shiraz style.

Interestingly, Victoria is Australia's third most productive wine region, behind South Australia and New South Wales. This is because of a lack of irrigated areas suitable for mass production, and a philosophy of quality over quantity. Smaller, boutique wineries are common in the state (along with some large, multi-state producers), and a vibrant cellar-door culture is helped along by the foodie culture in the city of Melbourne and the ease of travel in the relatively small state.

Victoria's wine industry owes its beginnings to the discovery of gold in the 1850s, causing an influx of settlers from around the world and in particular from Europe. As in California's Sierra Foothills region, these settlers brought vines and know-how from home, establishing a wine industry in the state and seeing the beginnings of companies like Seppelts and Tahbilk. Unfortunately, the spread of phylloxera in the late 19th century dealt Victoria a blow, and the wine industry didn't get started again until the 1960s.
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