“At the 1873 Vienna Exhibition the French judges, tasting blind, praised some wines from Victoria, but withdrew in protest when the provenance of the wine was revealed, on the grounds that wines of that quality must clearly be French.”
This is probably the best quote to start an article about Australian wine. Today Australia is recognized as one of the top wine producing regions in the world. It has well known wine producing areas that provide high quality wines praised by many experts. But actually Australian winemakers had to make a very long way to get this recognition, maybe even the most difficult among all the New World regions.
The colonized regions always had a more difficult situation than European countries. Beside from the fact that they had to compete with thousand year long winemaking and viticulture experience of European wine producing regions, they also often suffered from a lack of local winemaking experts and territories suitable for planting vineyards. But if such regions were found they usually had a benefit of a unique local microclimate that in the hands of a skilled winemaker allowed making a product with its own taste qualities.
Wine cuttings were first brought to the continent from South Africa by governor Philipp in 1788 and this was the start of the Australian wine. In took 32 years to adapt the grapes and sell the first wines domestically and two more years to start exporting it. During the 19th century local winemaking was boosted by introduction of grapevine cultures from France and Spain and by a flow of free emigrants from Europe, who possessed skill and interest in winemaking. And as you read in the starting quote, be the end of the century Australian wine got its first worldwide praise.
Just like in most winemaking regions the 20th century was not the brightest for Australian wines. The phylloxera epidemic at the turn of the century lest the industry weakened for decades and only by the 1970th Australia was able to begin focusing on complex wines (before that the production was focused mostly on sweet and fortified types). In addition to this inner economical grapevine market problems are constantly harming the potential of the industry. But this can hardly stop the local winemakers, who give their best to provide good product and earn their praise on the global market. Australian wine today is exported to many different parts of the world making the country the fourth biggest exporter behind Italy, France and Spain. The crucial markets for Australia today are the US, UK and Asia (which is consuming mostly Australian wine).
Among all the wine producing parts of the world Australia had a late start, no local grape cultures, little land suitable for winemaking and a serious shortage of specialists. Nevertheless the hard work of Australian winemakers paid off and today the country has a name in the world of wine. Just like in a song by a world famous Australian band “It’s a long way to the top” (c), but the top is always worth it.