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), later the first governor of the 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. Work immediately began on planting the vines he had brought with him, where the heritage-listed Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney now stands. Opened in 1816 and later home to Sydney's first zoo, the garden is now Australia's oldest scientific institution and one of the most important historic botanical facilities in the world. 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) is considered the "father of Australian viticulture". In 1825, he established a farm north of Sydney in the Hunter Valley. From a trip to Europe in 1833, he brought back hundreds of grape variety cuttings, including Syrah, which later became famous in Australia as Shiraz. 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 (1811-1870) 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 winery. John Riddoch (1827-1901) first planted vineyards in the famous Coonawarra area in the early 1890s, sparking a boom there. Thomas Hardy (1830-1912), who founded a vineyard in McLaren Vale in 1853, was equally important. An important role was also played by the Swiss, such as Hubert de Castella (1825-1907), who founded viticulture in the Yarra Valley. 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 a hundred 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 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 estate. 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. Australian oenologists are sought after worldwide as consultants called Flying Winemakers.
Within just one generation, Australia has become a true wine-drinking nation. Journalists such as Len Evans, James Halliday, Campbell Mattinson and Jeremy Oliver have also contributed to this through books, publications and wine guides. The vineyards cover 154,000 hectares of vines, from which about 12 million hectolitres of wine are produced. Multis account for about 80% of the wine production volume. For the most part, these are varietals (varietal wines). About 70% is simple bulk wine bottled in bag-in-boxes. Large quantities of table grapes and sultanas are also produced. About 40% is white wine varietals and 60% red wine varietals. For the special Australian climate/soil conditions, some new varieties suitable for this, such as Cienna and Tyrian, have been created. The grape variety chart of the top 50 in 2016 (Kym Anderson):
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