Italian grape varieties in Australia

Australia is planting and making some stunning wines from Italian grape varieties; Primitivo, Nero d’Avola and Negoramaro.  Traditionally found in Sicily and Puglia (called Apulia in English) southern Italy, they have found their home in a number of wine regions in Australia.

What are the characteristics and where are they grown?

Map of Italy, Sardinia and Sicily of wine corks

Nero d’Avola

This is a dark skinned grape variety (meaning Black of Avola) grown traditionally in Sicily. However it has found a home here in Australia, since 1998, in particular in South Australia. It benefits from a warm climate and in the heat retains its acidity which is so important for a well balanced wine.

Characteristics: Some of the flavours associated with this grape variety include black cherries, rapsberries, hints of spice, well structured with good acidity.

Grown in Australia: There are plantings in South Australia; in McLaren Vale and Riverland region. A few weekends ago, Ruth headed over to Coriole in McLaren Vale and was impressed with their juicy and flavoursome Nero. “Black cherries, spice and raspberries were abundant in the glass! And for $25, it was amazing!”

We love this infographic here from Wine Selectors which highlights more of the characteristics with food and wine matching suggestions.

For more information about Nero d’Avola, we found this article informative from Wine Companion.



Primitivo is a grape variety mainly grown in Puglia in southern Italy which is widely planted, alongside Negroamaro. Here it is a Mediterranean climate. Soils here have a calcareous base with iron oxide top soils. Primitivo and Zinfandel are genetically identical, hence they can be correctly identified as clones of the same variety.


Characteristics: Raspberries, blackberries, black pepper, black cherry, spice and liquorice.

Grown in Australia: Primitivo is grown in many wine regions in Australia including:

  • Western Australia (Margaret River, Perth Hills)
  • Victoria (Heathcote, King Valley)
  • South Australia (Adelaide Hills, Barossa, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Langhorne Creek)
  • New South Wales (Riverina)
  • Northern Tasmania



Also written as Negro Amaro. This is a dark skinned grape variety and means ‘black bitter’. Negroamaro is grown in the Salento peninsula (on the heel of the boot).

Characteristics: Dark fruit, dark chocolate, earthy characters, roasted chestnut, leather notes.

Grown in Australia:

  • South Australia including the Adelaide Hills, Riverland, Barossa Valley
  • Victoria (Heathcote)


Have you tasted any Italian grape varieties recently? Drop in and tell us!