In January 1788, an English ship with 300 convicts and guards landed on the south-eastern coast of Australia in the harbour of Sydney, which was founded in the same year. The commander was Captain Arthur Phillip (1738-1814), who also became the first governor of the later state of New South Wales. He recorded in writing that viticulture could be carried to any desired degree of perfection in such a favourable climate. Planting of the vines he brought with him was started immediately (where Farm Cove is today). But it was to take 200 years for Australian viticulture to become established. Rum was drunk so excessively in the first decades that the camp was called "Rum Corps".
The Scotsman James Busby (1802-1871), who had acquired wine knowledge in France and emigrated to Australia, is considered the pioneer and even the "father of Australian viticulture". In 1825, he founded a farm north of Sydney in the Hunter Valley - one of today's best Australian wine regions. From a trip to Europe in 1833, he brought back hundreds of grape variety seedlings, including Syrah, which later became famous as Shiraz in Australia. Busby published writings and books on grapevine science, viticulture and winemaking. Silesian immigrants used his instructions to plant vineyards from 1841 onwards.
In 1845, the English physician Dr Christopher Penfold established his vineyard in the Barossa Valley, which still exists today under Penfolds. A second pioneer in this field was the German Joseph Ernest Seppelt (1813-1868) in 1851 with his Seppeltfield vineyard. John Riddoch (1827-1901) first planted vineyards in the famous Coonawarra area in the early 1890s, sparking a boom there. Thomas Hardy, who founded a vineyard in McLaren Vale in 1853, was equally important. Swiss people such as Hubert de Castella (1825-1907), who founded viticulture in the Yarra Valley, also played an important role. In 1919, a viticultural research institute was founded in Merbein (Sunraysia, State of Victoria), which was then affiliated to the CSIRO research institute in 1927.
Two other important viticultural institutions are the AWRI and Charles Sturt University. For over 100 years, Australia produced predominantly heavy, high alcohol sweet wines, which were marketed fortified as "Australian Port". From the beginning of the 1960s, there was a shift towards fresh white wines. The well-known wine author and winemaker Len Evans (1930-2006) was instrumental in this development. A milestone was the "Grange Hermitage" created by the legendary cellar master Max Schubert (1915-1994) in 1959, a red wine produced in the Bordeaux style by the Penfolds winery. From the mid-1960s onwards, this was the starting point for the production of excellent red wines, primarily from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Shiraz, which were marketed as single varieties or as cuvées. Another pioneer was Wolfgang Blass (*1934), who immigrated from Germany in 1961.
Within only one generation, Australia became a real wine-drinking nation. Journalists such as Len Evans, James Halliday, Campbell Mattinson and Jeremy Oliver also contributed to this through books, publications and wine guides. In 2012, the vineyard area covered 162,000 hectares, from which 12.259 million hectolitres of wine were produced. There has been a huge growth of 60%, as in 2000 there were 106,000 hectares. Multinationals account for about 80%. Australian oenologists are sought after worldwide as flying winemakers.
Varietals (varietal wines) are produced for the most part. About 70% of the production is simple bulk wine bottled in bag-in-boxes. Large quantities of table grapes and sultanas are also produced. For the most part, international varieties are grown. At the end of the table, seven new Australian varieties are listed, which were created for the special Australian climate/soil conditions. About 40% are white wine varieties and 60% red wine varieties. The Grape Variety Chart 2010 (Statistics Kym Anderson):
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