Victoria’s King Valley was always going to be a good spot to start a revolution. Hidden between granite escarpments and eucalyptus-cloaked hillsides in the state’s northeast, bushrangers would once come here to lay low, and it remains ­relatively off the radar, even to Victorians. Populated with post-war Italian migrants, it’s the kind of place you visit, form a bucolic ­impression of sprawling vineyards and rolling hills, and then struggle later to explain exactly how you got there.

It was in one of those vineyards in 1999 that a man with the poetic name of Otto Dal Zotto planted a grape variety that grew in abundance in his home town in northeast Italy, but was ­virtually unknown in Australia. Five years later Dal Zotto Wines released its first vintage from the new grape, and Australian wine drinkers got their first taste of prosecco. Remarkable to think a grape so established in Australia’s party parlance has been with us for fewer than 20 years. But everything has to start somewhere.

“What’s obscure now won’t be in 20 years,” says viticulturalist and winemaker Mark Walpole. He’d know. A few years before that first prosecco planting, Walpole imported to Australia 70 different varieties of Italian grapevines, selecting varieties he predicted would thrive in northeast Victoria’s Tuscan-like climate. He then watched with amusement as the large wine companies – who only had eyes for shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and merlot – pulled out of the region, realising the high rainfall didn’t suit the big-name grapes.

It was the beginning of a mass diversification of the Australian wine landscape.

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