Australia Wine and Grape Industry
Also, visit Wine Regions of Australia for travel ideas.
Wine is one of Australia's most important natural products. Over 30 million cases are exported all around the world every year. Australian wines are found in fine restaurants, in picnic baskets and at parties of all kinds. Why? Because Australian wines are like Australians - friendly, generous and stylish.
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FOOD AND WINE REGIONS
Wine grapes are grown in nearly every state and territory, but the major wine-growing areas are concentrated in the southern half of the continent, mostly within a hundred kilometres of the coast. Grapevines are grown under enormous variations of terrains, soils and climates.
Visitors to Australia are often dazzled by the sheer quality and variety of Australia's food. "Australians have one of the most extraordinary assortments of basic ingredients of high quality anywhere in the world", according to leading US food writer Barbara Kafka. The local food markets in every major city are a great place to sample the harvest.
THE HUNTER VALLEY - NEW SOUTH WALES
Hunter Valley Wine Country is just 2 hours drive north of Sydney and is composed of wines, gourmet food, restaurants and cafés, rustic cottages and beachside retreats. The region now yields more than a hundred wineries and cellar doors taste new generation wines like Verdelho and Chambourcin, or savour the latest vintage of class Hunter Valley varieties such as Chardonnay, Semillon and Shiraz.
The Hunter Valley has over 30 fine restaurants to choose from. With a bounty of local ingredients, the local chefs create innovative and mouth-watering dishes. Enjoy lunch at an al fresco café or country pub.
YARRA VALLEY - VICTORIA
The Yarra Valley is Victoria's oldest vineyard region and is located 50 km, just under an hour's drive to the east of Melbourne's center. The Yarra Valley offers country retreats, wineries and restaurants and provides the excuse for luxurious accommodations and day trips.
Over 50 wineries are open for tastings and sales. Considered the cool climate wine district of the world, Yarra Valley specializes in sparkling wines, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Equally impressive are the full-bodied Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon styles. Superb wine is made to be enjoyed with fine food. The Yarra Valley offers over 30 cafés, restaurants and food outlets that embrace the region's reputation for local produce, including freshwater salmon and trout, salmon caviar, ice cream, hazelnuts and chestnuts, organically grown fruit, berries and vegetables, handmade cheese, pasta and preserves.
There are several self-drive touring routes in the region, including the Yarra Valley Regional Food Trail.
MARGARET RIVER - WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The Margaret River is within an easy 3-hour driving distance from Perth; the area is renowned for its breathtaking scenery and relaxed lifestyle. With over 80 wineries scattered throughout the unique countryside, the region has become famous for its fruity, dry whites, Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz. Margaret River Wines have a reputation for distinguished character and quality providing a variety and blends.
The combination of world-class wines and fine, fresh produce makes dining out in Margaret River a pleasure. There are 60 restaurants to choose from offering a variety of goods that includes local cheeses, fruity pickles and preserves.
BAROSSA VALLEY - SOUTH AUSTRALIA
South Australia remains the state with the largest area of vineyards. It produces half of the country's wine grapes (more than double that of any other state) and is responsible for 70 percent of the country's wine exports.
The Barossa Valley is one of the best-known and most productive wine districts in Australia and is only 50 km from Adelaide making it a comfortable drive from the city. There are some 48 wineries in the Barossa that welcome visitors and some offer guided tours. The landscape includes thousands of hectares of maintained vineyards that contain some of the oldest Shiraz vines dating back to the 1840s. In a region rich with culture, one may also taste delights and a diverse range of dining experiences prepared by award-winning chefs. With over 20 restaurants and cafés available offering local produce and seasonal varieties such as wild mushrooms throughout winter. A fruit throughout summer and autumn sees the ripening of plumb figs and fragrant quinces, juicy pears and crisp apples.
In edition to Barossa Valley, South Australia is home to The Clare Valley, Mclaren Vale and The Coonawarra wine region; all are very accessible from Adelaide.
THE TAMAR VALLEY AND SOUTHWEST TASMANIA
International connoisseurs know Tasmania as Australia's gourmet island. World-class ales, beers and wines complement rock lobster, Atlantic salmon and the sweet saltiness of oysters. Tasmania now produces some excellent wines notably Pinot Noir and others. The vineyards are small and special and located mainly around the Tamar Valley and southwest Tasmania. An easy loop drive can be taken from Launceston or Hobart.
HISTORY OF AUSTRALIA'S WINE & GRAPE INDUSTRY
The Wine and Grape Industry in Australia has a long and interesting history. The first vines arrived in Australia in 1788, and after an unsuccessful planting at Farm Cove (the site of the present Sydney Botanical Gardens), were transplanted to Parramatta, west of Sydney.
Wine growing and making didn't really take off at this time due to various difficulties such as problems with growing conditions and storage. A shipment of vines later on from France proved more successful and Australia began shipping wine overseas (mainly to Britain) in the early 1800s. It also seems that quality wine wasn't actually produced and transported until the early part of the 1900s due to technical innovations in the industry.
By the mid-1820s, Australian wine production had reached some 90 thousand litres. At about this time, Australian wines began to win medals at European wine fairs.
As European settlement spread over the Australian continent, so did the planting and propagation of the vine. By the turn of the century, Australia had become a major supplier to the United Kingdom with annual shipments approaching 4.5 million litres of mainly full-bodied, dry red wines.
By the end of World War II, Australia was producing 117 million litres of wine per year. The waves of post-war migrants from continental European countries who brought with them their well-established wine culture pushed the Australian industry into further growth.
The industry's success has been the result of the development of new grape-growing areas (Australia has large tracts of superior grape-growing land), a rigorous show system to set the standards for quality, and continuously improving vineyard practices, winemaking techniques, and equipment.
South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales (in Australia's southeast quarter) are the largest producers, accounting for 98% of wine grape production. Western Australia and Tasmania have smaller wine industries which are growing rapidly in both volume and quality. Some highly reputed wine areas are Margaret River in Western Australia, Coonawarra, Padthaway, Barossa, and McLaren Vale in South Australia, Yarra Valley in Victoria, and Hunter Valley in New South Wales.
The hallmarks of Australian wines are generous flavour, forward complexity, and balance.
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