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Australia’s emergence into the world of wine began in 1788 with vine cuttings from the Cape of Good Hope. Sadly the hot and humid climate proved to be too strenuous. Despite the shaky start, just a few years later the first major vineyards were successfully established in the areas surrounding modern day Sydney. Following the first vines, over 350 new varietals were introduced to Australia by a man named James Busby in 1833. These cuttings originated from France and over time, additional grafts from these vines began to spread throughout the country. From the start, Australia has intrigued vintners from around the world who arrived just to be perplexed by the difficult and unusual climate. Nevertheless, these obstacles were overcome and the production and quality of wines drastically improved with their knowledge. So much so that the wines began to rival some of the finest wines in France and, to much of France’s chagrin, went on to earn countless awards in French competitions.

Today Australia stands as the fourth largest wine producing nation in the world with about 2000 wine producers calling it home. The majority of which are small production wineries, yet much of the market is flooded by a handful of large companies creating bulk wines. Australia’s unprecedented approach to winemaking and viticulture has launched them into the top tiers of quality and has kept them on the forefront of the global wine industry.

Australia does not have any native grape varietals to its name but in spite of that, the vines took hold when introduced in the 1800’s. There are now over 130 varietals that grow between the 60 designated wine regions within Australia. The most common red varietals include: Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Mourvèdre. The most common white varietals are: Chardonnay, Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling. There are a few grape varietals created in Australia that were bred specifically to suite the country’s atypical environment. The first is Cienna, a red grape derived from mixing Sumoll and Cabernet Sauvignon. The second is Tarrango, another red grape cross between Touriga Nacional and Sultana grapes. The third is Taminga, a white grape similar to Tarrango. Australia also has a well-known red blend commonly referred to as GSM. This blend consisting of Grenache, Shiraz and Mourvèdre stemmed from the red blends typical of the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region and Rhône Valley in the South of France.

Although the environment is demanding, wine regions can be found in each of Australia’s states though more than half of the country’s overall production comes from the southern areas. A few of the major wine regions are: Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Hunter Valley, Yarra Valley and Tamar Valley to name a few.

We have featured wines directly imported from Australia in our International Wine Club. These are some you don’t want to miss!