Historically, Australia is a world leader in the production and export of wines. It has one of the largest and most diverse wine-producing regions in the world, and produces a variety of grape varieties. These include Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc. The main vine-growing areas are located in Victoria, New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and Tasmania.
The history of the Australian wine industry can be traced back to 1788, when Governor Arthur Phillip encouraged the cultivation of wine. The first vineyards were planted around Sydney and the Hunter Valley. However, phylloxera spread in Europe in the 1870s, destroying many European vineyards. In response, French winemakers Francois de Riveau and Antoine L’Andre traveled to Australia and convinced the British government to allow them to work there.
In the early days, the area of vines in Australia increased gradually, but there was little growth between the mid-1920s and the mid-1960s. During this period, the focus was on table wines. Imported wineries from around Europe, including Spain, France and Germany, spread to the colony. By the early 1970s, table wines were outselling fortified wines.
The late 1980s and the 1990s saw a boom in the Australian wine industry. Exports accounted for 10-20% of the country’s total wine production. In addition, a free trade deal with the United Kingdom opened up new opportunities for Australian wine. The Australian wine industry is regulated by federal and state law. These regulations include mandatory labelling requirements, such as product designation and geographical indication (GI) of the region where the wine is produced. The Australian Wine Research Institute was established in 1955 to support grape and wine producers with innovative practices.
From the late 19th century until the beginning of the Second World War, the volume of wine produced in Australia per dollar of real GDP was modest compared to its main competitors in Europe and South Africa. The early Australian wine industry was based in New South Wales, but it spread to other regions, particularly Queensland and Victoria. In addition, the influx of immigrants from around Europe helped fuel the expansion of the wine industry.
The early vineyards in Australia rotted because of the extreme heat and humidity. After a period of improvement in winemaking technology, Australia’s vineyards were expanded and more wineries were built. This, coupled with the lowering of ocean transport freight rates, helped the wine industry take off. In the early 1920s, one-sixth of all wine produced in Australia was exported. By the turn of the century, exports had grown to three times the amount of wine produced in the 1880s. The volume of wine produced in Australia per dollar of the nation’s GDP was small compared to Argentina and Chile.
The Australian wine industry is a major contributor to the economy through the production and export of wines. Winemakers also contribute to the economy through tourism. In the past few years, a number of winemakers have tried to penetrate new markets.