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Situated in Victoria's High Country, the King Valley brings a little slice of Italy to the northeast of the state. The region was originally settled during the gold rush era, with many migrant families establishing farms and vineyards throughout the valley. But the King Valley essentially took off as a premium wine-producing region in the 1940s and 1950s, following a large influx of Italian families who settled in the area. They saw the enormous potential for growing many of their favoured European varieties - varieties that are still grown there to this day.
The region stretches up the King River into the Victorian Alps. It is characterised by a range of differing altitudes and topographies, from the valley floor, through the undulating foothills, right up to the Whitlands Plateau - one of the highest grape-growing areas in Australia at around 800m above sea level.
Because of this range of altitudes, it's difficult to categorise the King Valley into a single climate. The lower valley floor can be seen as warm continental, although it does receive a cooling katabatic breeze that helps to regulate the temperatures - something that is crucial in hotter years.
The higher altitude slopes enjoy a much cooler continental climate, but here the temperatures are mitigated by the King River, producing a long, slow ripening season, with the cooler air helping to retain acidity.
The soils throughout the region are mostly deep red clay loams but the colour varies throughout the valley, though the basic structure is the same.
Thanks to the many wonderful Italian families that migrated to the area, the King Valley is home to some of Australia's best examples of Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese as well as an array of other European varieties.
The Glera grape (that goes to make Prosecco) is the most widely planted variety. It is found throughout the valley, though tends to grow best in the lower, warmer areas of the valley floor. Pinot Grigio also excels in the warmer sites but also grows well in the higher altitude zones, where the wines produced tend to be lighter and crisper.
Sangiovese, Barbera, and Nebbiolo are the region's best reds, with the former producing some outstanding wines from a variety of different producers.
Small pockets of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also found throughout the King Valley, but these tend to fare best in the cooler, higher altitude vineyards, such as the Whitlands Plateau.