Wine has been cultivated in Australia for more than 200 years. In 1788, the Englishman Arthur Philipp arrived Australia with his ship and English convicts and found that the land was very suitable for viticulture. He placed the first vines and later European and South African settlers brought vines along, the Australian wine was very popular even amongst the gold seekers. One could find the first vineyards during this period, however the wines were very plain and could not keep up with the top-quality wines from the other countries and so the wine collapsed in 1920.
A change only occurred in 1960 when people began cultivating light white wines. Great emphasis was laid on the winemaking technology and the Australians imported the latest technologies from Europe and developed them further in order to obtain the best extracts from the grapes.
The wine law is very liberal at the wine production in Australia. There are no statutory regulations regarding the varieties, pruning, alcohol, etc., only the boundaries of the production areas are well defined. The classification is according to federal States, zones, regions and sub regions. A grape variety or origin is indicated on the label, so at least 85 percent of the wine and the grape variety must come from this region and in the indication of the vintage, at least 95 percent of the grapes of this vintage have to be harvested. These regulations are monitored by the wine & Brandy Corporation.
There are barely any native Australian grape varieties, most were therefore imported from France, Germany, Italy and Portugal. The cultivation of red and white grape varieties balances out.
The most prominent white grape varieties are Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Verdelho, Marsanne and Colombard. The red varieties are Grenache, Merlot, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cultivation is done on a vineyard area of 175,000 hectares and only to the South of the country due to the cooler climate. It is rather cool and moist particularly in Western and Northern Australia as well as on the island of Tasmania. In warmer growing regions, an artificial irrigation is necessary.