Australian Wine

History of Australian Wine Growing


Australia has many wine regions across its various states although most of Australian wine comes from the country’s southern regions where it is cooler, particularly in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.


Australia’s wine history started in 1788 when the first vine cuttings from Cape Good Hope were brought to the penal colony of New South Wales. Initial attempts to produce wine from the first vine cuttings proved unsuccessful until the 1820’s. Additional varieties were produced after European grape varieties were introduced in the Australian wine regions.

Early achievements

Early settlers coming from European countries applied their skills and knowledge in wine making which greatly improved the production and quality of Australian wine. Australian wine soon won international acclaim when it won various awards at French competitions from 1873 until 1889. Notable achievements were gold medals at the 1882 Bordeaux International Exhibition and the 1889 Paris International Exhibition.

Phylloxera epidemic

In the late 19th century, the phylloxera epidemic struck the wine regions of Australia, severely destroying many vineyards. It took decades for the Australian wine industry to recover from this pestilence when it produced mostly sweet and fortified wines until the 1970’s.

World leader

After recovering from the devastating effects of phylloxera in the late 1970’s, Australian wine became the world leader as quality and production output significantly improved. Exports started to rise during this period, particularly to the United States.

Cleanskin wines

Introduced in the 1960’s as a solution to the excessive supply and low sales of Australian wine, cleanskin wines refer to bottle wine without a label or any identifying marks. This practice allowed Australian prestigious wine makers to dispose off excess or unwanted wine stocks without discounting the prices of existing brands. Consumers can enjoy premium quality wines without the high price tags when they purchase cleanskin wines.

Biodynamic/Organic wines

Sometime in 2004, premium wine makers started producing organic or biodynamic wine following a worldwide trend in organic farming. Biodynamic wines are produced using organic principles of agricultural farming, including the handling and processing of the fruit after harvest. Biodynamic wines are distinguished for their premium quality and carry a distinct aroma, flavour and texture, reflective of its place of origin.

Today, Australia’s wine making regions produce different wine varieties such as:

  • Shiraz

  • Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Chardonnay

  • Merlot

  • Semillon

  • Pinot Noir

  • Riesling

  • Sauvignon Blanc

The grape variety appearing on the Australian wine label indicates that the particular variety constitutes at least 85% of the wine.