Adelaide Hills is a wine growing area in the Mount Lofty Ranges region of South Australia. It is one of the largest wine regions in the state, reaching the Fleurieu Peninsula and McLaren Vale in the south, and the Barossa and Eden Valleys in the north.The key grapes here are Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Semillon, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; the latter two also go into the region's sparkling wines. The white still wines are characterised by clean and fresh varietal flavours and crisp natural acidity. Most of the Chardonnays go through malolactic fermentation for added complexity.
The long and cool growing season also reliably ripens red grapes in most years, when grown in the right locations. Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot are the other prominent red wine varieties.
Key to the region's grape growing is the altitude of its vineyards, which range from 400 to 650 meters (1,300 to 2,100ft). This gives the region - in an Australian context - a cool climate.
However the numerous valleys on this hilly terrain offer a varied range of exposure to the sun. This makes the correct site selection vital. In general, the northern part of the region, with its predominantly west facing slopes, is colder than the southern elevations, where coastal effects moderate the temperatures.
Throughout the Adelaide Hills region, the ripening season has historically been dry. This, along with the colder temperatures, allows the grapes to mature at a slow pace, resulting in concentrated wines.
Sadly, in late 2019 the region suffered heavy losses in the wildfires which raged across Australia. Early estimates suggested over 1,100 hectares of vineyards had been burnt, representing about one third of production. This blow followed two vintages affected by hail damage.
Before this, the region's proximity to Adelaide, and a thriving tourist industry based on its natural beauty have boosted the region's wine industry. It is one of the oldest wine growing areas in Australia, with significant viticulture practiced during the late 19th Century, followed by a revival in the 1970s and 1980s.
Adelaide Hills has two distinct sub-regions, Lenswood and Piccadilly Valley.