Australian wine History

Australia’s wine history is only just over 200 years young.

Though that hasn’t stopped this island in the sun from being renowned far and wide for its high quality, fruit driven red and white wines, somewhat surprising given its relatively short history. Wine was first invented in 8000BC, however it’s history first began in Australia in 1788 when vine cuttings where brought to shore by Captain Arthur Phillip at Sydney Cove. The humidity and poor vineyard management soon showed the wines wouldn’t survive in Sydney Cove, and soon after the plantings were removed and planted down Parramatta River and close to the Hunter Valley region near Cessnock, where the good quality soil combined with strong sun provided a favourable climate for grapes to grow. Plantings soon popped up in Barossa Valley in South Australia, and by the turn of the 19th century there were vineyards in many of today’s major viticulture areas.

Since the mid 1850’s, wines were produced in Australia and distributed internationally.Fortified wines were the main wines produced during this time, and this continued well into the 1900’s. It was not until the 1960’s when economic growth within Australia brought a greater disposable income and a desire for quality wines, Australians saw a significant change in the wines produced in Australia. A shift towards the fruit driven table wines of Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon emerged, with new wineries springing up around the nation in new and traditional areas. This expansion leading to a greater variety and increase in quality, and was the beginning of Australia’s winemaking reputation on a global scale.

Australia’s primary wine grapes are Shiraz, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon, and Australia contains more than 2,000 wineries in 60 different wine regions. It is one of the largest producers and exporters of wine in the world, shipping about half of the wine it produces overseas – over 400 million litres. In the past 30 years, Australian wines have developed a reputation for quality – especially in certain wine grape varieties and brands, such as its big, rich and fruity Shiraz wines, and the Penfolds Grange wines which can be bought for anywhere between $500 into the thousands, per bottle depending on the vintage.

Australia is part of the “New World” of wine producers, alongside Argentine, Canada, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States.Australian viticulturists have a reputation for being able to blend traditional wine-making processes with innovation in bottling, grape breeding and growing technologies. The resulting wines have a reputation for their “fruit forward” wine profile – that is, the initial onset of the fruit taste (not necessarily about sweetness). This has tended to make Australian wine more approachable for new wine drinkers, and contributed to its popularity as a quality wine producing country both domestically and internationally.