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The upper King Valley seen from Powers Lookout
|Type||Australian Geographical Indication|
|Part of||North East Victoria|
|Precipitation (annual average)||640 millimetres (25 in) – 1,410 millimetres (56 in)|
The King Valley, or King River Valley is a wine-producing and agricultural region centred on the King River between Wangaratta and the Alpine National Park in the North East Victoria zone of the Australian state of Victoria. There are a number of small towns within the region including Cheshunt, Whitfield, King Valley, Edi, Claremont, Moyhu, Byrne, Docker and Oxley. King Valley was recorded as an Australian Geographical Indication protected name on 12 October 2007.
King Valley history
The fertile valley area has been used since the 1880s to grow a variety of crops including hops and tobacco. A narrow-gauge railway was built between Wangaratta and Whitfield in 1889 and a government tobacco research farm was established in Edi and moved to Whitfield in 1902. Following the end of World War II, a large number of Italian, Yugoslav and Spanish migrants settled in the area and established tobacco farms. Following a decline in the tobacco industry in the 1970s, local farmers branched out into other crops such as chestnuts, hops and berries and a number of vineyards were established.
The King Valley has a history which includes bushrangers, Chinese and Italian immigration. The Chinese came from the Goldfields in the mid-19th century and brought with them a rich heritage as market gardeners, tobacco growers and merchants. Roads in the Valley today carry the names of the more prominent families like Mahlooks, Honey and Fosangs. Italian migrants came to the region in the 1940s and 1950s and following the Chinese grew tobacco but it was not long before they realized the enormous potential of the region to produce European wine varietals. The Valley has a reputation as a unique wine region for sangiovese, nebbiolo and barbera amongst others. Visit the King Valley and names such as Pizzini, Dal Zotto, Corsini, Sartori, Ciccone and Politini are prominent for their hospitality. Some of the highest altitude vineyards in Australia are around 800 metres (2,600 ft) on the Whitlands Plateau at the southern end of the region. Milawa is at the northern end with an altitude of 155 metres (509 ft).
The Whitfield railway line operated in the King Valley from 1899 to 1953. One of four narrow gauge lines of the Victorian Railways, the 50-kilometre line operated from Wangaratta (where it connected with the main line) to Whitfield. Today, this route is a rail trail.
Whitfield and Moyhu are the major townships in the King Valley along the road from Wangaratta or Mansfield. These two towns have public conveniences, places to stay, a local pub and general store each as well as a police station and fuel supplies. Other smaller hamlets are dotted throughout the King Valley region.