Grape vines first arrived in Australia aboard the First Fleet in 1788. Successive waves of European immigrants - Germans in the mid 19th century (settling in the Barossa) and Italians and Yugoslavs in the 20th century did much to consolidate growth of the Australian wine industry.
These days Australian winemakers enjoy status akin to the country's sportsmen and indeed, can be just as competitive! No surprise then that in recent years, sales of Australian wines in the UK finally surpassed French wines.
For a long time, grape variety was the most important distinguishing feature of Australian wines. They built their reputation on Shiraz, Chardonnay, Semillon and Riesling.
Today you will find nearly all of the world's great grapes are grown in Australia and the new buzz word is 'regionality'. Just as the French make great play of their appellations, the Australians are placing more and more emphasis on their own geographically delimited wine regions, concentrating on the varieties best suited to the local conditions.
The Coonawarra, the Barossa and Hunter valleys, McLaren Vale, Margaret River ... these and many more top regions provide some of Australia's most celebrated wines.
You can watch Tony Laithwaite talking about Australia below.
In the video, Tony tackles the country's remarkable rise to prominence, and what the future holds for this wine-producing giant.
Shiraz, Chardonnay, Viognier, Verdelho, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc
Penfolds, Yalumba, Grant Burge, Peter Lehmann, Vasse Felix
McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley, Margaret River, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley, Coonawarra, Riverina
Maritime, Mediterranean, Continental
- Australia is the 4th largest wine exporter in the world.
- Currently the country boasts over 2000 wine companies.
- The world's first 'Flying Winemakers' (a term coined by Tony Laithwaite) were Australians, employed to bring the latest Australian winemaking techniques to certain 'old fashioned' northern hemisphere wineries.