Injustice and Australian Wine History

Many wineries in Australia have histories that go back generations. This is especially true of the family businesses that produce some of Australia’s most prestigious wines. Australian Wine history has many injustices for the indigenous people.

Australian Wine History

The world of Australian wine is more diverse and varied than many people imagine. That is a great thing because the quality has never been better, and there are more options than ever to help wine drinkers find wines they will love. But this wealth of choice can also create blind spots for those who haven’t ventured into the waters of Australia’s unique wines. For too long, the popular image of Australian wine has been one of hot, dry shiraz made by men wearing Blundstone boots and cork hats. This image has been a hugely effective marketing tool, but it’s now doing more harm than good for Australia’s reputation as a wine producer.

The truth is that Australia has a rich and complex history of wine-making that spans hundreds of years. It’s an industry that was built on the shoulders of early immigrants and colonizers who took the risk of establishing vineyards in a new land far from home. And they were instrumental in transforming Australia into the New World wine powerhouse it is today.

Gregory Blaxland and John Macarthur were among the first to realize that Australia was well suited for grape growing and wine production. But the pursuit didn’t really take off until European immigrants with experience in viticulture arrived. Two of the most important of these were Swiss vignerons who helped pioneer the Yarra Valley and Geelong wine regions in the 1840s.

Other emigrants, like the Prussian “Old Lutherans,” who escaped wars and famine in their native Germany to settle in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, were equally successful at cultivating vineyards. And by the mid 1800’s, their wineries were producing volumes of Port and Sherry that rivaled the best in Europe.

There are still wineries today that trace their roots to these earliest pioneers. Orlando, founded in 1847 by Bavarian emigrant Johann Gramp and Henschke, which was established in the 1860’s by German immigrant Franz Joseph Schumacher, are still producing outstanding wines.

Even more impressive, are the wineries that have stayed in family hands over generations. Such is the case with the Thomson family who have been custodians of Best’s Great Western for over 100 years. Their fourth, fifth and even sixth generation are now at the helm, breathing new life into the historical estate.

Unrecognizable Asian farmers collecting sugar cane in countryside


With its many microclimates and diverse soils, Australia has the perfect climate for wine production. However, until the late 19th century, no indigenous grapes existed in the country, and all the vines used to produce the nation’s best-known wines — including Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Riesling — had to be imported from Europe or elsewhere.

The early pioneers largely established vineyards in the Adelaide Hills, Barossa Valley and McLaren Vale. They were assisted by a large wave of free settlers who arrived from a wide range of European countries seeking religious freedom and better opportunities. These emigrants brought with them the skills and knowledge required to grow their chosen varieties and establish successful wineries.

Many Australian wineries have a long history, and their owners are often the fourth or fifth generation to be custodians of the estates. They have nurtured the wines of their ancestors and are still making them today, with the same passion and commitment to their heritage.

Early Australian winemakers were challenged by the unfamiliar Australian climate, but they persevered and began to achieve considerable success. One wine at the 1873 Vienna Exhibition was described as being comparable to Chateau Margaux, and a Victorian Syrah competing in the 1878 Paris Exhibition won a gold medal.

As the industry grew, marketing strategies developed to promote premium Australian wines over lower-margin, high-volume brands. These strategies aimed to encourage customers to replace cheap French wines with Australian wines at celebratory dinners and other occasions, and to increase the overall value of the wine market.

With the increasing globalization of the wine trade, regulation has been established on a local, national and international level. This paper explores the development of wine regulations and compares these in France, Italy, Germany, and Australia. In addition, it examines how the regulatory systems of these different countries compromise between tradition and internationalism. The Paper also looks at the effect these changes have on wine quality and the impact they may have on future growth of the industry in each country. Submitted in satisfaction of Food and Drug Law required course paper and third-year written work requirement.


In contrast to the cliches of blockbuster shiraz, Home & Away and kangaroos Australia is a complicated winemaking country with an awful lot of different climates. Its winemakers have travelled the world, picking up ideas and inspiration on their travels, and bringing them back to Australia. But they are also working on adaptation and mitigation, knowing that global warming will bring hotter weather and drier conditions to the country and making preparations for it.

The first Australian vineyards were established in the late 1800s by a group of convict and free settlers. The viticultural skills of French prisoners Francois de Riveau and Antoine L’Andre, who had been sent to Australia with the First Fleet in 1800, were important. They planted the first commercial winery in the country, and also established the first vineyards in New South Wales and Western Australia.

By the 1880s, many free settlers had gained the skills necessary to establish a flourishing wine industry. In addition to the winery at Penfolds, emigrants from Germany helped to establish the Barossa Valley as a premier winegrowing region. In addition, free settlers from other parts of Europe were also instrumental in establishing the industry.

These early successes led to a boom in viticulture in the 1960s and 1970s. New vineyards and wineries were founded in all states, including Tasmania. By the end of the 1970s, Australia’s bearing area of vines had increased by over a quarter of a million acres, and production had increased by over 20 percent.

But this boom was short-lived. In 1978, Peter Shergold wrote in the Australian Quarterly that a sea of ‘ifs and buts’ hung over the wine industry. This was due to a combination of factors including rising supply costs, demand fluctuations and price-discounting, and changes in taxation and excise.

Shergold argued that it would be difficult for the wine industry to survive unless there was an overhaul of the whole system. A key to this was the need to raise awareness of Australian wine, which was still regarded as a luxury product, not a drink for everyone. This was exacerbated by the various total abstinence and temperance movements, which were in full swing at the time.

Winemaking in Australian Wine History

In the 19th century, when European settlers first began settling in Australia, winemaking was very much a family affair. Families would take a bottle of wine with them on the voyage and plant vine cuttings from those vineyards, bringing their passion for winemaking to their new home. This tradition continues today with many family owned wineries in Australia still producing wines for their fourth or fifth generation of family members.

The Australian wine industry is made up of a wide range of regions, from the hot and dry inland areas to the cooler climate coastal wineries. Across the country there are also many different microclimates and soil types that make for varied grape growing conditions. These factors can influence the final flavours and aromas of a wine and give it a unique Australian character.

One of the reasons that Australia is a great winemaking nation is because of the diversity of its regions. This means that there are a lot of options for winemakers to experiment and explore. It also means that there are a lot of winemakers who can learn from each other, sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The Thomson’s were one such family who took the opportunity to share their experience and skills with others. In 1962 Viv and Eric formed the Australian Wine Research Institute (AWRI) to develop the winemaking skills of other winemakers in the country. Their vision was to train future generations of winemakers to ensure that the quality of Australian wine continued to improve.

Throughout the years AWRI has trained many of Australia’s leading winemakers and their graduates can be found all over the world. It is through the AWRI that the Thomson’s, as well as other renowned winemakers, can continue to refine their skills and produce exceptional wines.

While the Australian wine industry is thriving, it is not without challenges. The biggest threat currently facing many winemakers in Australia is climate change. Warming temperatures and changing weather patterns are making it increasingly difficult for them to grow the types of grapes that they need in order to create top quality wines.

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Conclusion: Creating a Sustainable and Ethical Wine Industry in Australia

The history of injustice in Australian wine history is a complex and nuanced topic. While there are many examples of exploitation and environmental degradation, there are also many initiatives and organizations working towards a more equitable and sustainable future for the industry. As consumers, it is important for us to be aware of the issues and to support the positive change that is happening within the industry. By making ethical purchasing decisions and supporting initiatives that promote diversity, sustainability, and fairness, we can help to create a wine industry that is both enjoyable and responsible

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Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesBy Published On: August 16, 2023Last Updated: February 29, 2024

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