Learn About the Grapes That Make Our Wine

Illustration of Ivanhoe vineyard with wine varieties labeled
Shiraz grape


Known as Syrah to most of the world, the Shiraz grape originated in the Rhône region in France. Its appearance in Australia is attributed to James Busby—a man responsible for importing many of the varieties in this list—who brought cuttings from France in 1831. These initial cuttings ended up in the Sydney Botanical Gardens and right here in our very own Hunter Valley, where combined with our climate and soils, they tend to produce medium bodied wines with savoury, spiced notes. Ivanhoe's Shiraz grapes go into five variations, with our 2017 Dark Horse Shiraz being the cream of the crop. For tasting notes and food pairing tips, see our Ivanhoe Wines for Winter article.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The Cab Sav’s ease of cultivation has seen it become the world’s most popular wine grape (though it’s been known to jostle with Merlot for the top spot). Also originating in southwestern France in the 17th Century, it is the lovechild of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. Climatic factors spread the Cab Sav flavour spectrum across cool climate blackcurrant with green bell pepper, mint and cedar, to warm climate cherry and olive, through to hot climate over-ripe, jammy fruits. Our 2016 Prince of Thieves Cabernet Sauvignon celebrates rich tannins and will be an absolute treat if cellared 8-12 years. Shop our range of big, gutsy Hunter Valley reds here.

Grape Varieties
Chambourcin grape


A relatively new kid on the block, the Chambourcin variatel first appeared in the early 1960s from an unknown hybrid developed by French biochemist, Joannes Seyve. Its high-yield and disease resistance mean it has since been adopted world-wide. Strongly pigmented (teinturier) grapes result in rich red or pink wines with aromatic tannins. Our 2018 Chambourcin is easy to drink and features notes of cherry and dried spice. Check out food pairings for our Chambourcin here.


This variety’s susceptibility to botrytis cinerea—an advantageous fungus which weakens the skins leading to water evaporation and leaving the dried grapes with a high sugar content—makes it popular as a sweet wine grape. The early 19th century saw it brought to Australia by none other than James Busby, and has since become synonymous with the Hunter Valley. Region-wide, they are typically citrusy and earthy in youth and become honeyed and mellowed with age. Our 2019 Semillon brings lemon and lime to the palate and can be cellared for 8-12 years to mature. Ivanhoe Semillon grapes also find their way into our Archer Semillon Chardonnay and the decadent Botrytis Semillon. Explore our range of Hunter Valley white wines here.

Semillon Grape
Chardonnay grape


Another French-origin grape, this time from the region of Bordeaux. The grape’s green skins and white flesh create a pale to deep gold wine. The variety itself carries a neutral palate, which leaves character largely to factors such as terroir and oak, though typical features of a Chardonnay are a medium to light body, acidity and a buttery mouth-feel. As a result of the warm Hunter Valley climate, our Chardonnay has a bouquet of stonefruit and palate of premium French oak with a creamy finish. We also blend our Chardonnay grapes with Semillon to create The Archer; a great wine for summer.

Gewürztraminer aka Traminer

Despite its Germanic name, this Traminer varietal comes from the Alsace region of France and is a mutation of Sauvignon Blanc. It can be a temperamental variety to grow, but good conditions yield juicy pink grapes with high natural sugars and a lychee bouquet. Our Sparkling Maiden is a vibrant blend of Gewürztraminer and Moscato grapes, which makes for a lovely accompaniment to any celebration.

Traminer grape
Verdelho Grape


Unlike the other grapes grown at Ivanhoe, this variety hails from the island of Madeira in Portugal. Its success in Australia is linked to the Hunter Valley, where it became popularised in the early 1900s. Verdelho is a tropical fruit-salad on the palate and fittingly thrives in warm climates like ours in the Hunter. When pairing with food, keep thinking tropical and drink with spicy Asian or Thai food. Our 2019 Verdelho is also very enjoyable on its own! See our article on Verdelho and Semillon food pairing for more ideas and a detailed flavour profile.

If you'd like to taste any of our wines, come see us at our Hunter Valley cellar door for a wine tasting masterclass or visit our online wine shop
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