Australia's wine history is certainly not as old as the land itself. Southern Australia was first discovered by the Dutchman Abel Tasman and then eastern Australia was discovered much later
by the Briton James Cook. The Aboriginal people certainly drank no wine.The first vines arrived in the late eighteenth century, intended for a botanical garden. The first official wine-growers arrived in the early nineteenth century. The Scot James Busby, with some experience of winegrowing and making acquired in France, successfully planted the first vineyards in the Hunter Valley. Vines were soon growing elsewhere in Australia. Apart from Hunter Valley on the east coast, they were planted in the south, around Adelaide, Southern Vale, and Barossa.
The initial wines tasted somewhat like the present day Rhone wines through the excess of sun and too little water, although they were sold somewhat cheekily in London as 'Australian Burgundy' or even 'Burgundy'. The wine industry was given a sudden and unexpected impulse after World War I when thousands of soldiers were suddenly discharged with no work for them.
The government encouraged soldiers to make a new life for themselves in growing and making wine. This proved to be a success, indeed perhaps too successful given the hefty over production of wine that arose. The growers directed their efforts increasingly towards the production of port and sherry type fortified wines. This gave the growers two ways of getting rid of their surplus. The demand for fortified wines was huge and wine spirit was needed in order to make them.
Up to the 1960s most Australians preferred to drink beer or gin to wine. The Australian wines were mainly intended for the local Greek and Italian immigrants and for export. When the Australian government took measures to reduce drinking and driving, the pattern of alcohol consumption began to change.
Consumption of wine gradually increased in Australia, both at home and in restaurants, bars, and such places. Better wines started to be drunk but the bulk wine market remained very active. Wine in a can, bag, or box is still widespread here. With a consumption of 19 litres of wine per capita per annum the population of Australia still lags well behind that of most European countries, but a new style of life is clearly to be seen.
The drinking habits of the world consumers changed in the 1970s. Far less sweet wine was drunk, with dry wines becoming far more popular. Australian producers reacted well by seeking out cooler places to grow their grapes such as the Eden Valley and Coonawarra which are more suitable for grapes like Sauvignon Blanc, Colombard, Riesling, Chenin Blanc, and Chardonnay.
A similar change also occurred with red wine. Because Australian
|wines have now been discovered throughout the world, the Australian wine industry has seen explosive growth which continues into the new millennium. The Australian government has developed far-reaching plans to make Australia, one of the world's largest producing nations, after Italy, France, and Spain.|