ABOUT Australia - History Wine grape growing began soon after the arrival of European settlers in Australia with grapevines among the cargo of the First Fleet of 1788. By the 1850s, large areas of vineyard were developed in Victoria, NSW and South Australia. Australia has been making and exporting wine in a serious way since the 1850s when a gold rush in the State of Victoria trebled the young nation’s population, creating a cashed-up middle class keen to enjoy a glass of wine with meals.
In fact, some of the oldest vines in the world are in Australia, because most of the nation’s wine regions escaped the plague of phylloxera which wiped out many ancient plantings in Europe during the 1800s. In the mid-1980s the Australian wine sector turned its gaze outwards, spurred on by changing domestic tastes which encouraged the development of high quality red and white wines. One of Australia’s early export success stories was Chardonnay, a well-made full-flavour style that became hugely popular in the United Kingdom because of its consistent quality and marketing. Chardonnay’s success was quickly joined by the rich fruit flavours of Australian Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon. By the mid-1990s, white wines such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon became popular, and more recently Pinot Gris and Viognier.
As for Australia’s other great red styles - Grenache, Pinot Noir and Merlot – all have been exported with great success. Today, wine exports are a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that continue to grow as more consumers around the world enjoy the quality and diversity of Australian wine.
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