Australia is the sixth biggest wine country in terms of production with immense potential for much more and it is one of the biggest wine exporting nations. Known as one of the leading New World wine countries Australia wine history is not new at all, it goes back to 1825 when James Busby considered the father of the Australian viticulture has established a farm in Hunter Valley, which is currently one of the best wine regions of the country. He was the one who has been gathering knowledge in France and has brought the Syrah grape variety, which later has been called Shiraz, and has become a benchmark for the Australian winemaking.
Australia is a vast country with various climate and geographical conditions which are making it one of the most versatile wine-growing countries in the world. The climate is very hot and dry affected by its southerly latitude, but regional features such as altitude and proximity to the oceans can also play a significant role. The country has six major wine areas (South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland) with 45 wine zones and 70 wine regions called Geographical Indications within the zones.
The Australian wine authorities have built very easy and comprehensive labelling system, for example, if the year is mentioned on the label 85% must come from the same vintage, or if a region is specified, 85% of the wine must come from the same region. The laws are leaving big freedom for the producers in terms of grape varieties, pruning, upbringing method, alcohol content or wine style due to the lack of restrictions that characterise European wine making, only cultivation zones are specified.
Australia's major grape varieties are Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Grenache and Mourvèdre. The blockbuster Shiraz is planted almost everywhere in the country, but the best expression is found in magnificent Barrosa Valley and high altitude Eden Valley in South Australia as well world-famous elegant Riesling boasts the Clare Valley. An interesting fact is that Australia has never had phylloxera disease and all vines are ungrafted, which makes the Australian vines one of the oldest in the world.
Australia is one of the world's largest wine producer with approximately 60% of it being exported. Wine is produced in every Australian state, with more than 60 designated wine regions, however the main regions are in the southern, cooler parts of the country, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland.
In general, better wines are made from smaller and cooler-climate regions and the wines are often labeled with the name of the grape variety, which must constitute at least 85 percent of the wine, easier for consumers to understand compared to Old World wines, with many regions called geographic indications being protected.
Check the Wine Australia
website for more information.