New South Wales


New South Wales Wine Regions

One look at the hero varieties for each of the 14 wine regions across New South Wales and it’s clear that this state is home to incredibly diverse wine country. From shiraz and chardonnay to verdelho, cabernet sauvignon and semillon, the producers across the state are focused on fine-tuning what each of their wine regions do best.

The historic Hunter Valley – the oldest continuous wine region – has long stolen much of the NSW spotlight, with its revered semillon (bright and citrus-driven in youth; luscious and layered with age) and distinctive shiraz rightly collecting fans. But much newer regions are also turning heads, with Tumbarumba, Hilltops and Orange just three that have recently gathered pace. These regions are responsible for some of the state’s most enticing chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc.

It can take time to explore the breadth of NSW’s wines. Whether you love lighter-bodied shiraz styles (turn to the Canberra District or Hunter Valley) or full-bodied richer styles of the variety (get to know Gundagai and Cowra), this state’s regions are worth a much closer look.

Discover the wine regions of New South Wales with James Halliday's Wine Atlas of Australia

New South Wales, the most populous state contributes little more than 27 per cent of Australia’s wine, and more than three-quarters of that contribution comes from the Big Rivers Zone, for which one can in practical terms read the Riverina region.

But New South Wales was first out of the blocks. Grapevines came with the First Fleet in 1788, and were planted on the foreshores of Sydney Cove where the InterContinental Hotel now stands, producing a few bunches of grapes the following year, but then fading from history when attacked by what was called black spot.

Other pioneers were Macarthur and Blaxland. Captain John Macarthur assembled a large collection of cuttings during an 18-month trip to Europe in 1815 and 1816; not many survived, those which did formed the basis of a substantial vineyard and winery which the Macarthur family established at Camden Park. Gregory Blaxland produced the first commercial wine at Brush Farm on the banks of the Parramatta River, near the present-day suburb of Ermington. He was the first to export wine to England, in 1823, and again in 1828.

However, the father of viticulture in New South Wales was James Busby, who in the last three months of 1831 travelled across Spain and France collecting 547 ‘varieties of vines’, including six cuttings of Shiraz from the Hill of Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley. When DNA analysis is refined to the point of being able to identify clones of vines (it is already able to identify the parents of a given variety) it is very likely his Shiraz cuttings will be found to be the mother vines of much of Australia’s best Shiraz.

Between 1815 and 1912 a viticultural map of the state had been drawn, encompassing the (present-day) Sydney metropolitan area, the Hunter Valley, Mudgee and the Riverina. That map was to remain largely unchanged until 1973, when the first vines were planted at Cowra. So it is that 11 of the 15 New South Wales wine regions of today have come into existence since 1973, the majority on the western side of the Great Dividing Range but two on the coast.

New South Wales Facts

New South Wales Wine Regions 24
New South Wales Wineries 503
New South Wales Tasting Notes 28490