New South Wales is the second-largest wine producing region in Australia, accounting for approximately 30 percent of all Australian wine production. The most popular varietals from New South Wales include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay. However, in recent years, concerns about drought in the region have led to new-found popularity for drought-resistant varietals such as Tempranillo.
New South Wales has the unique distinction of being the most populated wine region in the country, thanks to it being the home of Sydney (the most populous city in all of Australia). Thus, wine consumption vastly outpaces wine production in New South Wales.
The proximity to Sydney (and, to a lesser extent, Canberra) is what has helped to build a thriving wine tourism industry in New South Wales. The two primary wine growing areas of this region include Hunter Valley and the Big Rivers Zone. While Hunter Valley is arguably better known, due to tourism traffic from Sydney, it is the Big Rivers Zone that is the largest producing area in New South Wales.
The Big Rivers Zone, which includes Murray Darling, Perricoota, Riverina and Swan Hill, is the home of mass-produced brands such as Yellow Tail, which as originally developed in 2000 as an export wine. In just a few years, it became the No. 1 imported wine within the United States.
New South Wales is also home to the very first Australian vineyard, which dates back to 1791. During the 1820s, attempts were made at winemaking along the Hunter River, and by the 1850s, wines from New South Wales were winning awards and national recognition. Some of the largest wineries with a presence in New South Wales include McWilliam’s, Lindeman’s (owned by Treasury Wine Estates), De Bartoli, Yellow Tail and Rosemount.