Wine, tea and terroir tasting highlights how the wine industry can learn from tea

Dilmah Tea chairman Dilhan C. Fernando. Image courtesy Kelly Barnes.

By Meg Riley

A wine and tea tasting experience took place at the Novotel Barossa Valley Resort yesterday, exploring the links between wine, tea and terroir in an effort to understand what makes wines – and teas – taste different.

From soil and altitude to moisture and maturation practices, the event revealed many factors common in grapegrowing and winemaking are also considered and applied in tea production.

Titled “Wine and Tea: Terroir and Taste”, the event was a collaboration between Sue Bastian, Associate Professor in oenology and sensory studies at the University of Adelaide, and Dilmah Tea, who combined to highlight the similarities between tea and wine, providing opportunities for both industries to further their understanding.

Wine and Tea: Terroir and Taste event at Novotel Barossa Valley Resort


“It was a great opportunity to learn more about the similarities and differences between wine and tea, and to discuss the latest research. The event fostered stimulating conversations that have the potential to reshape the way we perceive these two remarkable beverages,” said Bastian.

Associate Professor Sue Bastian. Picture by Kelly Barnes


Dilmah Tea chairman Dilhan C. Fernando led the tea tasting and discussion, explaining the diversity of terroir in Sri Lanka and its profound impact on tea’s essence, and how producers of both tea and wine can learn from one another.

“Both beverages are deeply rooted in tradition and culture, and they are both affected by the environment in which they are produced. We believe that this event has helped to raise awareness of the importance of terroir and sustainability in both wine and tea production,” Fernando said.

Similarities in how the two beverages are produced ranged from sustainable agricultural practices and variations in terroir to maturation treatments post-harvest.

Nikki Robins from the Barossa Grounds Project, explained the importance of promoting biodiversity in the vineyard to ensure a healthy crop, a sentiment which was echoed by Fernando. Robbins gave the example of micro bats, which despite initial concerns, have been discovered to feed on the light brown apple moth, which was a welcome revelation.

Fernando recalled a similar experience in the Sri Lankan tea farms, where bats were found to be eating harmful fungus and insects. He also cited Australian techniques of attracting bees to vineyards, such as using brightly coloured native plants, as an inspiration to Dilamh’s tea farming.

Both wine and tea producers were interested in soil health and profile, and Fernando reiterated how much of tea’s taste is influenced by its environment, and how notably the flavour is shaped well before it is harvested.

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