Australian Wines: An Industry against the Odds

Australia is a blend of ancient perseverance and modern innovation. You would be astonished to realize that the least populous continent on Earth hosts the oldest continental terrain that dates back as long as 4.9 billion years ago. On the other hand, several modern inventions such as refrigerators, electronic pacemakers, and GPS have originated from Australia. Hence, the country has a diverse history that offers exciting insights into the continent.

Today, we will explore the Australian wine industry from where it originated in 1788. You might be surprised to know that despite its approximately 5 billion years of existence, the first wine ever produced in Australia was in 1820 – on a domestic scale. Admiral Arthur Philip brought vine cuttings to New South Wales on the first fleet to Australia, leaving England on 13 May 1787. However, the first attempt to produce wine failed. Eventually, Australia could manufacture the first noteworthy wine during the 1820s.

Made With British Love

Australia had been under British rule until the Second World War; Governor Phillip introduced to wine in the country when he first arrived in Australia in 1788. This wine proved to be a unique taste for the offices in the penal colony in New South Wales, and experts and creators started exploring the possibilities of manufacturing the beverage. Consequently, they kept trying unique compositions of grape fermentation, but had little success.

Wine is not a forgettable drink; thus, perseverance to produce the drink in Australia was unquestionable. The first wine in Australia was developed in 1820 by foreign settlers brought to the penal colony in New South Wales, who could not satisfy their thirst. Due to their excellent production, the taste became highly popular amongst the general public. Consequently, vineyards were used to produce wines for domestic consumption within the same year.

The Industry Starts Growing

The years between the 1820s and 1840s mark the flourishing period for the new wine industry in Australia. In 1822, George Buxland—a pioneer European farmer & explorer in Australia—started exporting wines. Although the wines were not fermented for long time, their taste was popular in the British Empire. Eventually, Buxland’s exports earned him an award in 1830.

Shiraz is Australia’s most popular variety. It grows in almost every wine region of Australia, accounts for one-quarter of total wine production and is the most exported wine.

The next hindrance to the growth of the wine industry came after failing to produce a diversified variety. The Australian population was frustrated with monotonous tastes and wanted a newer variety. Therefore, to satisfy public demand, James Busby came up with a selection of grape varieties from France & Spain in 1833. The collection included the most classic French grapes fortified for future production.

Foreign Settlers Played Their Part

The Australian wine industry had a massive boost as people (foreign settlers) flew from America & to Europe during the following decades. The foreign immigrants were skilled in multiple sectors, which helped the wine industry flourish in Australia.

Foreign refugees developed South Australia’s Barossa Valley from Prussia and started establishing vineyards in the region. Today, Barossa valley has a popular name in wine production, and it hosts the world’s finest beverages. Similarly, travelers from Switzerland also assisted in developing the Geelong wine region in 1842.

The Problems of the Past

Despite the efforts of foreign governors, mainly Britain, the Australian wine industry could not see a prominent growth similar to other countries. It was primarily due to the unfamiliar climate for foreign producers, who could not adequately time their winemaking processes. Another obstacle was a lack of acceptance by locals for foreign honors during its early phase. A famous example is the rejection of the title for Victoria after it was unveiled as an Australian brand, while the organizers wanted more outstanding French wines to win.

Today’s Situation

Nevertheless, Australia has eventually found its foothold in the wine production industry and is amongst the largest producers of wine today. The overall dry, warm, and Mediterranean-style climate help in wine fermentation, allowing large-scale production. Today, Australia produces 110+ million hectoliters for export consumption only. Hence, the next time you drink a Shiraz wine, relish the taste and appreciate its history.

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