The benefit of Barossa’s uninterrupted 175 years of regional grape-growing and winemaking is the accumulation of knowledge – stories, gut feelings, yarns and folklore, sometimes scribbled in diaries and vintage log books but often just passed down verbally from generation to generation.
Every grower has these stories – the place in a vineyard where the vines struggle, the other bit of dirt where they inexplicably flourish. Winemakers also come to know the difference in aroma and colour from vineyard to vineyard, how one parcel of grapes produces flavours of fresh raspberries and a neighbouring lot will taste like dark chocolate.
This repository of information is as consistent and reliable as its owners, but until 2008 was undocumented.
That was when the Barossa Grounds project was launched, a chance to evaluate the link between landscapes, soil types, meso-climates and variations of wine style – specifically Shiraz – across the Barossa Zone.
Barossa Grounds involves the collection of climatic data and analysis of soil profiles across the “parishes” or sub regions of the Barossa Valley and Eden Valley followed by controlled winemaking studies and annual tasting reviews.
More than 80 sites have so far been analysed and as the project has progressed additional data has been overlaid in terms of soil water-holding capacity – a major influence on vine canopy growth – as well as temperature, rainfall, and elevation.
What growers have known for generations, that Barossa is an extraordinarily complex place to grow grapes, has now been revealed in independent data that will be a reference for the next century.
Barossa Shiraz is one of the great regional wine-styles of the world. Now it is clear there is not one style but dozens of variations on this theme, all influenced by place as much as the winemaker’s hand.
This has both inspired and recognised a gradual move to more single vineyard wines bringing an exciting richness and diversity to the Barossa Shiraz experience.
The consumer is the big winner – if you enjoy soft smooth plush flavours and aromatics you might be seeking out a wine from the south while if you like big muscular reds mouth puckering tannins choose a single vineyard wine from the north of Barossa.
Barossa Grounds is a collaboration between the region’s member based Barossa Grape & Wine Association, South Australia’s leading soil scientists and viticulturists, wine critics, the State Government Department of Primary Industries and Regions and the Barossa’s most experienced grape-growers and winemakers.
Read more: Barossa Grounds