Australian Wines: Overview, History, Wine Regions, & More

The wine industry in Australia is the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world. It accounts for $5.5 billion dollars annually to the nation’s economy. It has a major shar in south Asian wine markets and is second largest in the India markets. Australia consumes almost 500 million liters of wine per year. The major varietals are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Semillon, Pinot Noir, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc.

The history dates back to 1788 where cuttings of vines came from the penal colony of New South Wales from the Cape of Good Hope. The attempt to make wine from these cuttings didn’t work out so well but the settlers managed to cultivate vines suitable for winemaking. Some of the first wine produced was in 1820 and available for sale locally. Gregory Blaxland was one of the first to export wine in 1822 and he also won an overseas award.

Early wine producers faced many difficulties due to the climate and terroir. After a few years of history, they finally saw success at the 1873 exhibition of Vienna where French Judges enjoyed until they found out where it originated. As Australia continued winning high honors in French competitions, they were hit pretty hard during the phylloxera epidemic. Up until the late 1970s, Australia produced many sweet and fortified wines but since has rapidly become a leader in quantity and quality. Over the last twenty years, Australia suffered low grape priced which the government urged producers to pull their vines and clean skin wines was introduced. Since this long period of history, organic and biodynamic farming has been popular and they have seen a demand for organic wines in the European markets.

Australia’s wine regions are regulated like their labels and divided into South Eastern Australia, Victoria wine region, New South Wales wine region, and the Western Australia wine region. Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals.

Penfolds Grange is one of the most famous wines in Australia. This wine has won more than 50 gold medals and has topped the charts and reviews in all the publications.

Some of the more popular names you might have heard of are Peter Lehman, Yellow Tail, Little Penguin, Molly Dooker, Greg Norman and many more. Some really good and inexpensive wines have come from Australia and I am sure you will enjoy many of the wines they produce.

Further reading: German Wine History & Classifications

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