- History - A history of Australian wine and winemaking.
History of Australian Wine
Wine production in Australia began in 1788 at the settlement of Farm Cove in New South Wales. The first governor of the then British Colony, Captain Arthur Phillip, planted vines of Brazilian origin in the fertile soil on his way to Sydney. Later, realizing the humid climate of the coast was unsuitable for wine production, Phillip moved his vineyards inland where they prospered in the favorable soil and dryer climate.
The British quickly recognized the possibilities for large-scale production of wines in Australia, and by the mid 1800s the colonys vineyards were expanding rapidly. Immigrants from France, Italy, and Germany helped fuel the colonys rapid growth with their thorough knowledge of viticulture. The region became most well known for its production of sweet, fortified wines, which were preferred by the British during this era. By 1900, Great Britain imported over half a million gallons of wine per year from Australia, and the continent seemed poised for international success.
Unfortunately, the wine industry tends to move in a cyclical manner, and Australia was no exception. From the early 1900s through the end of World War Two, the continents wine growers experienced a series of droughts, outbreaks of phylloxera, and economic woes. Even following the war, when world conditions supported the export of wines, Australias vast supply of fortified wines was met with little demand abroad. Tastes had shifted, with consumers desiring lighter table varieties, and Australias wine continued to be sold mostly domestically. Indeed, in 1980, nearly 99 percent of all Australian wine was consumed within the country.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Australian wine industry, recognizing a need to modernize to compete on an international scale, invested heavily in wine production technology. Additionally, a system of wine ratings and reviews, the Wine Show System, began to enforce high quality standards on Australian wines. As a result of this determined effort, exports now represent nearly 40 percent of Australias wine production, and this number continues to increase rapidly. Today, Australian wines are know for their good quality, but especially for their affordability, with high-volume producers selling well known brands throughout the world. Its wines have permeated nearly every level of wine drinking, from high-end connoisseurs events to the daily household shopping list.
- Overview - An overview of Australian wine today
Overview of Australian Wine
Australia's wine production has skyrocketed in the last twenty years, and vineyards now grow in every location where the climate allows viticulture. From the baking heat of the Swan District in the West to the cool, rainy island of Tasmania, Australia's wines span even the broadest spectrum.
Australia's fame has deservedly risen from its big, bold reds produced mainly from Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. Enjoying warm weather and ideal soil conditions, these wines, particularly from Coonawarra, Barossa Valley, and McLaren Vale achieve incredible flavors and intensity. However, Australia does much more than just produce these powerful wines. Yarra Valley in Victoria, for example, is home to some of Australia's finest Pinot Noir which rivals that of Burgundy itself. The Hunter region in New South Wales is famous for its unique crisp Sémillon. To sum up the country in a single phrase, Australia offers a multitude of fine wines whose relatively low pricing will force competing countries to shape up or get out.