A History of Australian Wine

It is only in recent years that Australia has become an influential member of the wine industry. So where did this phenomenon emerge from? It is no overnight success story. Rather, the beginnings of wine making in Australia began as far back as the late 16th century. The efforts of long ago have just now been paid off in the last decade or so as Australia wine is now being seen as the quality product which it is.
To say that Australia’s wine industry had humble beginnings would be an incredible understatement. The first vines were brought to Australia in the 1780’s by Governor Phillip from Rio de Janeiro, who planted 3 acres of vines. By 1797, a man named Phillip Schaeffer, along with several other private planters, had 8.5 acres of vines. Unfortunately, these early attempts failed quickly due to disease and poor management. Attempts made beginning in the 1800 by two French prisoners of war failed as well. By 1804 only 40 gallons of wine had been produced by them, and it was of mediocre quality.
Gregory Blaxland arrived in Australia in 1806, and conducted his experiments with vines on 450 acres. For 25 years, he studied and practice how best to grow vines in this different climate and soil. He was the first wine maker to export his product oversees. He is known as Australia’s great wine cultivator.
Immigration in the 1840’s led to quick expansion of the new wine industry. Several vineyards were founded during this period that are still functioning today. In New South Wales, legislation was passed which freed some previous restrictions and waved the publican license requirement. This spurred the doubling of the number of acres producing wine, and sent wine production to over 100,000 gallons for the first time. The tremendous growth in the 40’s can also be attributed to the local distribution of manuals and guides to viticulture. The 1880’s were a time of anti-drink sentiment. Despite the opposition and a widespread epidemic of phylloxera, vineyard acreage rose to 65,000 acres by 1900.
The 1900’s saw real change in the Australian wine industry. Australian wine began being sold under private labels instead of in bulk. Australians also began to drink the beverage as a "table wine." This opened up an entirely new segment of marketing. The 1960’s and 70’s saw incredible growth in the wine industry. Starting out with 3 little acres of vines, Australia now, over 200 years later, ranks as the sixth largest producer in the world.
The future of Australia’s wine industry is heading anywhere but down. Production is growing by leaps and bounds, and one can only imagine the influence that the country will have in the global wine market. It’s start was shaky. However, Australia has managed to create an incredible wine industry despite a seemingly futile beginning. The possibilities are endless.

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About The Author, Ian Love
Ian Love is the boss of Australian online wine store, specialising in premium red wines and runs Perth's largest wine clubs.