Australia

IN A NUTSHELL...

In just 200 years, Australia’s wine industry has grown from a few small plantings to an industry renowned the world over. As far as the origins of the wine industry were concerned though it was not found in native grape varietals but rather grapes imported from Europe and much of the wine produced from these was then shipped back to the UK. The first known record of grape production in Australia dates from 1791 it was written it was recorded

“On 24th January two bunches of grapes were cut in the Governor’s garden from cuttings of vines brought three years before”

The Governor’s garden was located in what is now Sydney’s Macquarie Street one of the busiest streets in the city. Shortly afterwards John Macarthur established the earliest commercial vineyard in the coastal region around Sydney at Camden Park. Encouraged by these early successes, between 1820 and 1840 settlers gradually established vineyards in the following states: New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria and last but by no means least South Australia.

THE WINE REGIONS

South Australia

South Australia is without doubt the country’s most important wine producing state and consistently responsible for almost fifty percent of Australia’s annual production. It is also home to some of the most famous regions, historic estates and oldest vines in the country. It is by far the driest state but the Murray River which runs diagonally through the state provides critical water irrigation for many of the regions.

Some of the main sub-regions within South Australia include:

ADELAIDE HILLS AND ADELAIDE PLAINS

The Adelaide Hills are regarded by many wine critics as Australia’s most vibrant, cool climate wine region. Geographically it is one of the largest in Australia and is the most diverse in terms of climate, soil and topography.  As for the style, the cool climate makes for some of Australia’s most elegant wines displaying great finesse and varietal intensity.

As its reputation grows it is becoming acknowledged internationally for its viticulture, stunning scenery and premium wines, so when you have a bit of time it is definitely a region worth taking a look at.

A Grape Representation:

Some Young Punks 'Quickie!' Sauvignon Blanc

BAROSSA

Originally established by British settlers back in 1842, this is one of the most historic wine producing regions not just in the Southern state but in the whole of Australia. Today sixth generation grape growing families continue the traditions of their forefathers and the region has Australia’s largest collection of old vines with many blocks of working vines dating back to the 1860s. The region incorporates both the Barossa Valley and the Eden Valley making it one of the only areas in Australia to have both warm and cool climate growing conditions.

A Grape Representation:

LIMESTONE COAST

The Limestone Coast wine zone has a wonderfully rich geological history and encompasses the wine regions of Coonawarra Padthaway, Wrattonbully Mount Benson, Robe and Mount Gambier.

Coonawarra is renowned as one of Australia’s finest wine regions and has gained considerable recognition for its world-class Cabernet Sauvignons. Its secret... a magical marriage of rich red terra rossa soil, limestone, pure underground water and a long cool ripening season. If you love rich colourful red wines then you will love Coonawarra wines.

A Grape Representation:

WRATTONBULLY

Known for the World Heritage listed limestone caves and ancient geology Wrattonbully lies between Coonawarra and Padthaway. Having been inhabited for many years by Aboriginals the land proved extremely suitable for all sorts of farming enterprises and in 1885 the first grapevines were planted by Scottish settler George McEwin. By the 1920s, five acres of grapes were growing, mainly the Muscatel. It was not until the late 1960s however that the first vines were planted for the production of wine. A planting boom took place during the 1990s and today the region has fifty grape growers and close to twenty wine producers in the region. As the vineyards mature and the winemakers begin to better understand the unique characteristics of Wrattonbully grapes, the huge potential that the terra rossa soils offer when it comes to quality is being recognised.

McLAREN VALE

Blessed with an ideal climate for growing grapes, the area that is known today as the McLaren Vale Wine region was amongst the first to be planted with vines in South Australia. In some reports it is even referred to as being the birthplace of the South Australian wine industry. The man credited as being the first to establish a vineyard in the area in 1938 was John Reynell. His efforts were so successful that it wasn’t long before others were following suit. Today the region has 65 wineries, mostly boutique-sized and 270 individual grape growers

The region itself is nestled between the rolling Mount Lofty Ranges and Gulf St Vincent beaches. As for grape variety, Shiraz is the most important accounting for about half the region's total production. The region also specialises in Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache, as well as Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. So plenty to choose from!

A Grape Representation:

Other regions include Clare Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island, The River Island, Southern Flinders Rangers

Western Australia

The state of Western Australia is made up of nine wine regions, the majority of which are situated in the cooler climate of its south-western tip. Although when it comes to production of wine, Western Australia produces less than 5% of total Australia’s total output, but in terms of quality, the wines are very much near the top.

Of these regions the most famous is without doubt:

MARGARET RIVER

Lying to the south of the state, The Margaret River benefits from a temperate climate, which comes from the maritime influence of two oceans meeting - the Indian and the Pacific. This coupled with the rich iron clay soils are perfect conditions for growing wine.

Regarded as one of Australia’s best wine producing regions, it began its vineyard life as a result of two research reports from Californian viticulturist Professor Harold Olmo and the Western Australian scientist Dr John Gladstone. In 1965 Dr Gladstone’s report indicated that the region possessed all the attributes to produce world class wines. One such person to act upon this report was Dr Tom Cullity and so it was that the Vasse Felix vineyard near Willyabrup was born. Today, after less than fifty years on the Margaret River, it has achieved an international reputation for world class wines.

It is highly regarded as a producer of powerful yet elegant Cabernet Sauvignon and has also forged a great reputation for its whites, most notably Chardonnay and Semillon Sauvignon blends. 

A Grape Representation: 

New South Wales

Believe it or not New South Wales is the second largest wine producing State accounting for over thirty percent of the $5 billion Australian wine industry. Since 1995, wine production in New South Wales has trebled and the area under vine has also increased from less than 15000 to over 40000 hectares over the same period. In terms of wine exports from NSW this has increased too by nearly seven hundred percent over the last decade. As for the recognised wine regions within NSW there are currently about fourteen and they represent a diversity of climates, soils and typology.

Victoria

Adjoining South Australia to the east is Victoria a small state accounting for just under 15% of Australia’s wines. As for the principal regions from north to south these are: Murray River, Rutherglen, Goulburn Valley, Heathcote, Yarra Valley, Mornington Peninsula and Geelong.

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