Say G'day to Australian Wines
When many people think of Australia, they usually think of kangaroos, koalas, and beer. It would surprise a lot of people to learn that Australia is actually the fourth largest exporter of wine in the world. They even invented
the wine cask, or wine box, that is sold all around the world. Although Aussies love their beer, they are also immensely proud of their wine producing industry as well, as it is worth over 6 billion dollars a year! They have become so popular in the last few years, such that Australia now exports more wine to the UK than France!
History of the Australian Wine Industry
Originally, vine cuttings from South Africa were brought to the penal colony of New South Wales by the then-Governor Phillip on the First Fleet in 1788. Because it was such a new land with a very unique climate, the first attempts failed. However, with a lot of the persistence that Australians are renown for, vines planted by early settlers flourished in the right locations, and by the 1820s, the Australian commercial wine production industry was born. By 1822, the first Australian wine to be exported was produced by Gregory Blaxland, who was also to become the first Australian winemaker to receive an award overseas. In 1830, vineyards were created and established in the famous wine producing region of the Hunter Valley.
From humble beginnings, where early winemakers were at the mercy of an uncertain and unfamiliar climate, Australian wines were achieving high praise overseas. An an interesting story, at the 1873 Vienna Exhibition, French wine judges, in a blind taste test, praised some of the wines produced in Victoria, but then they quit in protest once it was revealed the wine was actually Australian, yet they thought the quality meant that it had to be French!
The Australian wine industry has grown considerably since its beginnings, and this is despite the fact that there are no native grape varieties in Australia. Therefore, early grape varieties came from Europe and South Africa.
Today, the major grape varieties for red wines are Shiraz (or Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot. For white wines, Chardonnay, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling are the major varieties. Even though these make up the bulk of Australian wines, various varieties from France, Spain and Italy, such as Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranilla and Viognier are gradually becoming more well known to Australian wine industry.
Major Wine Regions of Australia
The vast majority of wines produced in Australia are in the states of New South Wales, Victoria, the southern regions of Western Australia, and South Australia, with the latter accounting for over 50% of the total wine production. That's not to say that other states are not getting into the act! Tasmania has a slowly growing wine industry, particularly the Tamar Valley, producing some high quality Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to take advantage of the cooler climate found in Tasmania. Queensland has even started a wine industry, with major vineyards and wine production in the towns of Stanthorpe and Ballandean.
If you go to your local wine shop, you will no doubt find a large selection of Australian wines. They will be a great addition to any BBQ! Here at TheWineSpot.org, our aim is to keep you informed of all the latest news, reviews and helpful articles about Australian wines, as well as useful links to various advertisers for wines in your local area. So why not grab a small glass of a good Aussie Chardonnay, sit back and explore the site....you never know what you'll find!