A question likely to come to mind after traversing South Australia’s Eden Valley is: “Why is this called a valley?”
At least in the way we generally think of a valley, the Eden is far from one. Much more noticeable than its occasional flat expanses are the area’s steep slopes and windswept hills.
Ultimately, it’s those features that define the Eden as a unique wine region, as they provide growers with a variety of “aspects” for their vineyards, and winemakers with a wide range of aromas and flavors in the grapes.
Eden Valley shares its western boundary with the Barossa Valley so, not surprisingly, there are some similarities in wine types and wine styles. Both areas produce a range of red and white wines, and are home to some legendary vintners.
If one were forced to differentiate between the two, it could be said that the Eden Valley is slightly better suited for the production of white wines, while the Barossa has the edge when it comes to red varieties. Climatically, Eden Valley has more in common with the wine region to its south—Adelaide Hills—than with the Barossa.
Two of the more famous wines of the region are Jim Irvine’s “Grand Merlot” and Henschke’s “Hill of Grace” Shiraz. Even so, Eden Valley is known primarily for its Riesling, rivaling the esteemed bottlings of that variety made in the neighboring Clare Valley.
Many of the area’s best Rieslings are crafted in the district known as the High Eden, where the cooler climate provides ideal growing conditions. The High Eden is home to Mountadam Winery, where legendary vintner David Wynn has transformed Chardonnay production into an art form.
Another pioneer of the region is Yalumba, which is Australia’s oldest family-owned winery, founded in 1849. Rather than resting on its historic laurels, Yalumba has continued to innovate, in recent years bringing rare-to-the-region varietals such as Viognier and Tempranillo to the public’s attention.
It may be a valley that doesn’t resemble a valley, but the Eden Valley ranks among Australia’s most important wine regions.