The region, centred on the rural city of Griffith was established as an irrigation area in the early years of the 20th century. The development of the wine industry was due to the McWilliams family who used the area to make fortified wines. By the 1950s interest was being shown in the production of table wines from premium varieties.
The region is not very well known, but if you have ever tried an Australian cask wine you have most likely drunk a Riverina wine. However there are some fine wines produced in this region as well as bulk wines.
Among the large producers in the region are the De Bortoli family and the Casella family. De Bortoli made their name with Noble One, a most unlikely wine in this climate. It is a sweet white made from late picked, botrytis affected Semillon. De Bortoli also have a large vineyard in the Yarra Valley region in Victoria.
Casella are world famous for their [yellow tail] wine but they also have an impressive range of alternative varieties under the Yendah brand name.
The climate in the Riverina wine region is very hot in summer, comparable to the other major irrigation areas in Murray Darling and Riverland regions. Hot dry growing seasons mean that the region is a very efficient producer of wine grapes.
Among the alternative red varieties the late maturing Durif and Petit verdot are quite prominent here, reflecting the warmer climate. Saint Macaire is a rare red Bordeaux variety used by Westend Estate to make a very impressive red varietal wine.
Although it would seem that the region is too hot for white wines, modern technology comes to the aid to produce some good wine.
This region will continue to produce large quantities of wine which will be sold in bulk or as in cheaper brands. However there will always be a few pioneers of new varieties here, taking time and trouble to make something different. It will be interesting to see if anyone follows Westend Estate's lead and starts to use Southern Italian varieties like Aglianico.
If you plan to visit this region why not check out the accommodation options using the Wine Country Hotels tool.
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