The Australian wine industry is the 6th largest in the world, exporting over 400,000,000 litres a year to a large international export market that includes ``old world`` wine-producing countries such as France, Italy and Germany. There is also a significant domestic market for Australian wines, with Australians consuming over 400,000,000 litres of wine per year. The wine industry is a significant contributor to the Australian economy through production, employment, export and tourism. Australian wine exports to the US rose from 578,000 cases in 1990 to 20,000,000 cases in 2004 and in 2000 it exported more wine to the UK than France for the first time in history.


Vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope were brought to the penal colony of New South Wales by Governor Phillip on the First Fleet (1788). An attempt at wine making from these first vines failed, but with perseverance, other settlers managed to successfully cultivate vines for winemaking, and Australian made wine was available for sale domestically by the 1820s. In 1822 Gregory Blaxland became the first person to export Australian wine, and was the first winemaker to win an overseas award. The production and quality of Australian wine was much improved by the arrival of free settlers from various parts of Europe, who used their skills and knowledge to establish some of Australia\\\\\\\'s premier wine regions. For example, emigrants from Prussia in the mid 1850s were important in establishing South Australia\\\\\\\'s Barossa Valley as a winemaking region.

Early Australian winemakers faced many difficulties, particularly due to the unfamiliar Australian climate. However they eventually achieved considerable success. ``At the 1873 Vienna Exhibition the French judges, tasting blind, praised some wines from Victoria, but withdrew in protest when the provenance of the wine was revealed, on the grounds that wines of that quality must clearly be French.``

In the decades following the devastation caused by phylloxera until the late 1970s, Australian wine production consisted largely, but not exclusively, of sweet and fortified wines. This was true of much New World wine until the historic Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 and subsequent wine competitions demonstrated that wines of the very highest quality could be produced in diverse regions of the world.

Grape varieties

Major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Riesling. The country has no native grapes, and Vitis vinifera varieties were introduced from Europe and South Africa in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Some varieties have been bred by Australian viticulturalists, for example Cienna and Tarrango.

Although Syrah was originally called Shiraz in Australia and Syrah elsewhere, its dramatic commercial success has led many Syrah producers around the world to label their wine `Shiraz`.

About 130 different grape varieties are used by commercial winemakers in Australia. Over recent years many winemakers have begun exploring so called `alternative varieties` other than those listed above. Many varieties from France, Italy and Spain for example Petit Verdot, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier are becoming more common. Wines from many other varieties are being produced. These are described on the Vinodiversity website.

Australian winemaking results have been impressive and it has established benchmarks for a number of varietals, such as Chardonnay and Shiraz. Moreover, Australians have innovated in canopy management and other viticultural techniques and in wine-making, and they have a general attitude toward their work that sets them apart from producers in Europe. Australian wine-makers travel the wine world as highly skilled seasonal workers, relocating to the northern hemisphere during the off-season at home.`` They are an important resource in the globalization of wine and wine critic Matt Kramer notes that ``the most powerful influence in wine today`` comes from Australia (Kramer).

Major wine regions

The largest volume of wine is produced from grapes grown in the warm climate Murray-Darling Basin zones of Lower Murray, North Western Victoria and Big Rivers. In general, the higher-value premium wines are made from smaller and cooler-climate regions. Some well-known regions are listed below:

Western Australia: Bordeaux-style reds and wonderful Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs from Margaret River; fresh, crisp Rieslings, plus Pinot and Cabernet from the cooler climes of Pemberton and Great Southern.

South Australia: Massive, blockbustingShriazes (such as the fabulous Penfolds Grange) from Barossa Valley; complex, classy Cabernet Sauvignon-based reds from Coonawarra; intense Shirazes (such as the iconic Henschke Hill of Grace) and floral Rieslings from Eden Valley; Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs from the cool-climate Adelaide Hills; fine Shirazes, fresh zestly Rieslings and honeyed Semillons from Clare Valley, opulent Chardonnays and Shirazes from McLaren Vale.

New South Wales: Full-flavoured aged Semillons, Chardonnays and Shirazes from the Hunter Valley.

Victoria: Silky Pinot Noirs from Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley (also home to fine sparklers); punchy Shirazes and Cabernet Sauvignons from Bendigo and Heathcote; Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays from King Valley; luscious fortified Muscats from Rutherglen.

In recent years, the Tasmanian wine industry has emerged as a producer of high quality wines. In particular, the Tamar Valley has developed a reputation for its Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, which are well suited to the cooler Tasmanian climate.

This article is based entirely or in part on the Australia wikipedia article and is licenced under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence.


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