Located in the Limestone Coast zone of Southern Australia, Coonawarra is Australia’s premier red wine growing region. While Australia may be typically seen as a hot country, the Coonawarra region is only 60 miles from the coast and has a climate similar to Bordeaux. It has been producing wines since the 1800s (originally focusing on fortified wines), but grew to global prominence between 1960 and 1990.
Known for its “terra rossa” soils, reddish in colour and ranging from clay to silty-clay over limestone, Coonawarra produces premium Cabernet Sauvignon. While primarily clay-led, the soil is surprisingly well draining, which is important for vine vigor.
Coonawarra may mean “honeysuckle” in Aboriginal, but the Cabernets from this region are often noted for their eucalyptus-forward notes. As we know, wine is influenced by many factors, such as soil type, sun exposure, warming and cooling influences, along with other plants that grow in or around the vineyard. Australia is renowned for its eucalyptus trees, and the vineyards in Coonawarra are surrounded by them. Being in such near proximity, sharing the unique soil, having the airflow between the trees and the vines, it’s pretty neat that these wines really showcase the “terroir” (sense of place) of the region.
While it’s noted for Cab Sauv, Coonawarra does produce other wines, both red and white. Keep an eye out for Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Riesling.
You can read more in-depth about Coonawarra’s history and prominent players here.