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Penfolds was founded by a young English doctor who migrated to Australia a century and a half ago. Dr Penfold maintained a firm belief in the medicinal value of wine (don't we all?). Before he left Britain he had obtained vine cuttings from the south of France and these were planted around the site of the modest stone cottage, called the Grange after his wife Mary's home in England, at Magill on the outskirts of Adelaide in 1845.Up until the Second World War, the company mainly produced fortified wines and brandy, with only a small amount of table wine. Jeffrey Penfold Hyland, however, decided to change Penfolds' direction, increasing the company's production of table wine, which at the end ofthe war still accounted for only 3 per cent of Penfolds' total production.In 1950, Jeffrey Penfold Hyland convinced the company to focus more on table wine, reflecting the emerging shift of consumer tastes. The task of effecting this change was given to winemaker, Max Schubert, who had joined the company as a teenage messenger boy in the early 1930s. In 1951, following a visit to Europe, Schubert produced the first experimental vintage of Grange Hermitage, a Shiraz based wine inspired by the great, long-lived red wines of France. Fifty years later, Grange remains a flag bearer for the industry and the wine which not only fundamentally altered the course of Australian red winemaking, but also led the way in establishing the quality image for Australian wine internationally.
Located in the south east of the wine state of South Australia, the Barossa Valley is not only the most famous wine region in Australia but also is the one which produces the most wine. The summers here are hot and dry so drought can be a problem. As a result, unirrigated bush vines scatter the landscape, some even dating back to the 19th Century. These old traditional Shiraz vines can produce the most concentrated form of what has become one of the world's most distinctive winestyles, Barossa Shiraz. These are rich, powerful, chocolaty and spicy wines, to which Viognier is sometimes added for extra perfume. There are old Grenache and Mourvèdre vines too in the region, which combine with Shiraz to make the popular blend ‘GSM'. Semillon is more common than Chardonnayin the Barossa, producing some rich white wines. Cabernet Sauvignon can also be found but only on certain soils as it is less dependable than Shiraz.