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A Quick Tour Through South Australia's Wine Region: Background information when reading Exiles

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Aaron Falk Mystery #3

by Jane Harper

Exiles by Jane Harper X
Exiles by Jane Harper
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2023, 352 pages

    Feb 2024, 368 pages


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A Quick Tour Through South Australia's Wine Region

This article relates to Exiles

Print Review

Map showing locations of sub-regions of South AustraliaJane Harper's third novel in the Aaron Falk series sees the Federal Police agent returning to the fictional town of Marralee, located in South Australia and home to an annual food and wine festival where a woman went missing the previous year. Harper is known for providing evocative descriptions and details for her Australian settings, and Exiles brings readers to the heart of South Australia's wine region.

The region consists of six sub-regions: Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, Eden Valley, Coonawarra, McLaren Vale, and Adelaide Hills. The state of South Australia is roughly 1,200 km or 750 miles across, so the sub-regions vary in climate and topography.

Clare Valley is the farthest north, and known primarily for its dry Riesling white wines; it has been producing grapes for wine production since the 1840s. The area's warm summers that get cooler at night slow down the ripening process of the grapes, which is ideal for the production of Rieslings.

Southeast of Clare Valley is Barossa Valley, known for its red wines made from the Shiraz grape. Barossa boasts over 150 wineries, including some of the oldest ones in Australia. According to Wine-Searcher, an online resource for all things wine-related, Barossa's Shiraz offerings are "rich and extremely full-bodied, with the ability to age for a significant time if cellared correctly." Barossa is also known for its fortified wine (wine mixed with brandy or another distilled spirit).

To the southeast of Barossa Valley is Eden Valley, located upon the hills of the Mount Lofty Ranges. With a higher elevation, Eden Valley has a cooler climate, and consequently is known for wines with "a tart, intense acidity," according to the blog Wine Folly. Southwest of Eden Valley is Adelaide Hills, best known for the production of Sauvignon Blanc, which also grows best in cooler areas. Like Clare Valley, wine production in Adelaide Hills dates back to the 19th century.

McLaren Vale is just 22 miles south of Adelaide Hills and another sub-region where Shiraz reigns supreme. Wine production here also began in the 19th century and has now expanded to include close to 200 wineries. Grapes for Sauvignon Blanc and Grenache are grown here as well.

Farthest south is Coonawarra, a sub-region with unique soil — a reddish-brown topsoil over soft limestone. This is called terra rossa soil and it's ideal for growing grapes because it is nutrient-rich and offers good drainage. Also featuring cooler temperatures, this is another sub-region where Sauvignon Blanc grapes thrive.

Should you wish to visit the South Australia wine region, the South Australian Tourism Commission provides a wealth of different events and tours to consider, along with a comprehensive list of wineries. For those who wish to explore from home, Wine-Searcher's main page on South Australian wine features a list of the region's most popular wines, broken down by grape variety and price. This could be a great resource if you're looking for refreshments for your book club's discussion of Exiles.

Map of South Australia's wine region, courtesy of the Wine Grape Council of South Australia

Filed under Places, Cultures & Identities

This "beyond the book article" relates to Exiles. It originally ran in March 2023 and has been updated for the February 2024 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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