Barossa’s winemakers lead a new high-altitude fine wine revolution.
Even though table wine consumption in Australia still averages just two bottles per head (by 2010 it will be more than 25 bottles per man, woman and child) the Barossa’s winemakers are leading a new – high altitude-fine wine revolution. Yalumba purchases the old Pewsey Vale vineyard in the Barossa Ranges established by Joseph Gilbert in the 1840s and starts experimenting with cool climate Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon; Orlando plants its Steingarten Riesling vineyard on a windy, stony hillside; Thomas Hardy & Sons launches Siegersdorf Riesling and John Vickery makes magic with Riesling from Eden Valley at Leo Buring. Penfolds also releases Bin 60A in 1962, a blend of Barossa Shiraz and Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which will still be considered Australia’s best wine 50 years later. Wine chemists such as Ray Beckwith and Tony Kluczko play an important role in wine quality control and new technologies such as centrifuge filters and carbon dioxide blanketing, to prevent oxidation in white wines, become common place. Near Angaston a new star is born – Peter Lehmann has finished his apprenticeship at Yalumba and takes over as chief winemaker at Saltram, creating a big, long-lived “hydraulic press” Shiraz. It will be the beginning of a journey that will re-define the Barossa in the 1970s and 1980s.