Australia has 2500 wineries spread throughout 65 wine regions, and the land on which these wineries are built was taken from the Traditional Custodians. The growth of the wine business is linked to an increase in European immigration, which has had disastrous implications for Australia’s Aboriginal people.
In 1788, the first grapes were planted in the nation’s settlement heart, Sydney Cove, at Circular Quay. British colonists aspired to emulate European customs by producing wine in Australia. They considered wine as a historical and cultural icon of civilization. Colonial authorities tried to civilize Aboriginal people and encouraged them to consume wine in the early days of occupancy.
As more Europeans came to Australia in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, grape cultivation increased around Sydney and began to spread inland. To live, Aboriginal people were compelled to enter the settlement economy and were recruited to labor in vineyards. Slave-master relationships arose and were widespread.
When problems are confronted front on, it opens the way to more inviting and inclusive opportunities. The exclusion of Aboriginal Australians from the wine business is not deliberate; it is the result of a lack of understanding about how to connect. It is up to the next generation of winemakers and wine experts to make it happen. Creating a terroir-centric narrative must be a grassroots campaign until there is a treaty between state and federal governments and Aboriginal people.