Historical Perspective on Australian Wine Industry

1788 sydney cove Captain Arthur Phillip

Australia wine industry has come a long way in not so long span of 200 years since its onset.

Australian Wines has earned respect and recognition in almost all the international wine competitions.

How did Australian Wine Industry begin?

The first cuttings were brought from abroad through Cape of Good Hope in 1788. But the vines could not last long in high heat and humidity and got rotten.

In the early 1800s, John Macarthur planted the vines on his Camden Park Property and soon opened the doors to Australia’s first commercial vineyard and winery. Among the grapes planted were Frontignac, Pinot Gris, Gouais, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Verdelho. Soon settlers established vineyards in Tasmania, New South Wales, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia.

A man named James Busby brought cutting from Spain and France and planted them in Australia in 1833 which was a significant event in Australian wine industry. These varietals became successful in the Australia soon enough.

Some of the Highlights of the Australian Wine Industry

Australian vines suffered a setback with Phylloxera, an insect which feeds on leaves and roots of the grapevine, entering Australia via Europe in 1875 and did widespread damage. After a massive loss, a method to counter it was developed later which involved grafting European grapevines with American plants which worked as American roots prevented the attack from the insect and produced European grapes.

Australian wine industry slowly but gradually evolved. Export of Australian Wines to England increased more than four-fold from 31,850 litres a year on an average between 1854-63 to 145,600 litres a year between 1863-85.

At 1873 Vienna Exhibition in a blind tasting event, French judges were surprised by the quality of Australian wines which were previously expected only from French wines. Australian wines also won gold at the 1882 Bordeaux International Exhibition and 1889 Paris International Exhibition.

After World War I, during 1900 – 1920s, vines were planted widely in soldier settlements and the prices dropped due to overproduction of the grapes which led to the collapse of many vineyards.

After the second World War, during the period of 1940-50s with the coming of European immigrants into Australia, wine industry matured with the development of new skills in wine production and people were introduced to the fresh style of wines and consumption also increased.

In the 1960s there was a shift from fortified wines to table wines in Australia with people started drinking more table wines, considering it to be more civilized drink. This shift resulted in an increase in production of table wines from 1 million cases to 85 million by 1999.

Australian Wine Industry as of today?

Australian wine industry suffered from the problem of overproduction in the past few years.

According to the recent figures of Australian wine Industry, domestic sales of Australian wines have shown some decline from 471.2 ML (million litres) in 2010 to 446.5 ML in 2015 which points towards decrease in wine consumption whereas imports have risen from 74.3 ML in 2011 to 89.8 ML in 2015.

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