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Whilst most of Australia consists of arid deserts and dense bushland, the oceanic coasts to the south of the country have a terrain and climate ideal for vine cultivation and wine production. It took several decades of failed attempts at the end of the 18th century in order to produce vines of a decent enough quality for making wine, but since those first false starts, the Australian wine industry has continued to grow and grow. Today, wine production makes up for a considerable part of the Australian economy, with exports in recent years reaching unprecedented levels and even overtaking France for the first time ever. Whilst the greatest successes in regards to quality have been the result of the Syrah grape varietal (known locally as Shiraz), Australia utilizes several Old World grapes, and has had fantastic results from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay and more. As the Australian passion for locally produced wine continues to develop, wineries have begun experimenting with a wider range of grape varietals, meaning that nowadays it isn't uncommon to find high quality Australian wines made from Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier, amongst many others.
The Limestone Coast of South Australia is one of the country's most important wine producing regions, with almost one third of all Australian wines originating there. As the name suggests, this stretch of coastline is geologically significant, being made primarily of mineral rich limestone, and thus providing plenty of nutrients for the range of grape varietals that thrive there. Interestingly, unlike many of the wine regions of Australia, the Limestone Coast has a healthy water table, meaning there is plenty of moisture below the soil, and thus solving any problems relating to irrigation that causes difficulties for wineries elsewhere in the country. Plenty of different vines flourish in this fertile region, most notably Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, and also many white wine varietals such as Chardonnay and Viognier.
The vast region of South Australia is home to a wide variety of vineyards, growing a large range of different grape varietals. Because the South Australian wine region is so large, it benefits from a great array of climatic conditions – from dry and hot, to cool and windy – which wineries can use to their advantage when it comes to selecting the grape varietal they wish to thrive in a particular sub-region. South Australia is most commonly associated with the big, powerful and fruit-forward Shiraz wines which are produced in the cooler valley areas of the region, but recent decades have seen something of an explosion in the South Australian wine industry, leading to wineries expanding their repertoire enormously and experimenting with other fine grape varietals and making the most of their unique terroir.