Australia is renowned for producing world-class wines, from hearty reds to fruity whites and delicious dessert and fortified wines. Australian bottles are equally at home in the finest international restaurants and local liquor stores.
History of Wine in Australia
Australia’s history of wine manufacture traces back to its settlement in 1788.
Governor Arthur Phillip brought vines with him on the First Fleet, and numerous vineyards were established in the area that is now Sydney. By the 1890s, the popular Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley, and Yarra Valley had begun to produce wine.
Until the 1950s, Australia primarily produced fortified wines. These varieties were popular as the additional alcohol protected the wine from microbiological attack, making it suitable for storage and transport.
Around this time, Australia saw an influx of German and Italian immigrants. They helped to expand the wine industry in the Barossa and Riverina regions. Many of their descendants still operate wineries in these areas today.
In the 1960s, Australia turned its focus to the production of sweet and sparkling wines. In the latter part of the 60s, full-bodied reds came into vogue.
Aromatic wines, such as gewürztraminers, gewürztraminer rieslings, and Rhine rieslings, became popular in the 1970s. During this decade, Australia also developed the wine cask, or "bag in a box." This simple Australian invention made wine more accessible, as people could drink a small amount at a time. Angoves began to use the cask in 1965, and Penfold’s Wines quickly followed suit. It’s now used all over the world.
By the end of the 70s, the Australian tastes had changed from semi-sweet wines to dry whites. Chardonnay became the drink of choice, and it is still a popular option for wine drinkers today.
In the late 1980s, Australian wines began to break into the European market. Australia earned a reputation for fresh, fruity whites and robust reds. By 1995, Australia had secured 1.5% of the world’s wine trade. According to the Foster’s Group, this has grown to 3% today.
Australia is currently the seventh largest wine manufacturer in the world, producing more than 1000 million liters of wine every year.