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Southern Hemisphere Wines: Facts and Wines from Coravin

Southern Hemisphere Wines: Facts and Wines from Coravin

When we think of the major wine regions of the world, countries in the Northern Hemisphere like Italy, France, the United States, and Spain top the list. However, while the most wine is produced and bottled in these regions north of the equator, regions on the southern half of the planet grow similar varieties but on opposite harvest schedules.

When is wine harvested in the Southern Hemisphere?

In Southern Hemisphere wine regions like Australia, Argentina, South America, and Chile, harvest happens between the months of February and April which is late summer, early autumn. In warmer climates of the Southern Hemisphere, grapes reach maturity faster leading to an earlier harvest while grapes in cooler climates are harvested closer to April.

What wine regions are in the Southern Hemisphere?

There are many wine regions south of the equator. Topping the list are Argentina, Chile, Australia, and South Africa. Also on the list is Brazil and New Zealand. Here’s a little more about some of the regions you might encounter in your local wine shop:

  • Argentina: If you’ve had wine from Argentina there’s a chance it was Malbec and that it was from Mendoza. Most of Argentina’s vineyards are located at the base of the Andes mountains in an area that gets a lot of sun and snowmelt. The primary wine region growing about 75% of Argentina’s grapes is Mendoza – a region wedged between San Juan to the north and Patagonia to the south. Other varieties include Cereza, Criolla Grande, Bondara, and Cabernet Sauvignon – lots of deep reds thanks to the high elevation and cooler temperatures.

  • Chile: Over in South America, Chile produces mostly Cabernet Sauvignon in the Central Valley. The French brought wine to the region, excited about Chile’s ideal climate and soils. Flanked by the Pacific Ocean on one side and Andes mountains on the other, vines thrive thanks to what experts call the air conditioner effect – cool ocean air pulled off the ocean then halted by the mountain range. Cool climate grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay do best on the coast, while inland vineyards are best for Bordeaux Blends, and high elevation vineyards are best for interesting Syrahs, Cabernet Francs, and Malbec.

  • Australia: Grapes are grown mostly along the southern coast of Australia in South Australia (Adelaide), inland in New South Wales (Sydney), and to the west in Western Australia (Perth). The main varieties grown here are Shiraz (called Syrah everywhere else), Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This Southern Hemisphere wine region has a warm, dry climate and produces a whole lot of screw cap wines.

  • South Africa: Old world meets new world in this part of the wine universe. Most grapes grow on South Africa’s Western Cape. As for varieties, the region is arguably most famous for Chenin Blanc which thrives in the warmer climate and granite soils. The hot coastal climate is known for bold red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, and Syrah.

  • Brazil: Most wine regions are concentrated in the southernmost part of Brazil – in Campos de Cima da Serra, Planalto Catarinense, Vale do São Francisco, Serra Gaúcha, Serra do Sudeste, and Campanha. About 80 percent of the vines cultivated in Brazil’s wine country is an American grape variety called Isabella – a thick-skinned grape that can stand its own in harsher weather. Other varieties include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, and others. Try a Brazilian