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Australia's landmass of more than 7.5 million square kilometres and a variety of climates and topography has resulted in a diverse range of grapes. A relative newcomer to the world of wine, having only spanned 200 years, Australia has become world-renowned for quality flavour and is constantly voted among the top 10 wine-producing nations in the world.
The first vines reached the Australian continent in 1788, which met a poor harvest, but in 1805, the first successful vineyards in the cooler Suburb of Parramatta in Sydney became the prime spot for winemaking, and slowly, other vineyards started cropping up. In 1831, celebrated horticulturalist James Busby set sail to find the best grapes to grow in Australia, collecting approximately 650 varieties across Europe. While only 362 survived, these thrived, and fast forward to the end of World War 2, a huge influx of migrants brought along with new wine production techniques and skills.
Since the 1950s, the wine industry has continued to flourish and exports millions of gallons of wine every year.
Australia grows a number of key grapes, including Pinot Noir in red, and whites such as Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. However, it is Shiraz that gets the most attention.
A cooler Mediterranean climate of warm, breezy summer days and cool nights makes for a combination of fruit ripeness and freshness making the wines particularly appealing. The Margaret River region is famed for its Cabernet Sauvignon, but Chardonnay is also another popular variety.
Another region is the Great Southern area, which creates distinctive dry wines such as Riesling and Shiraz.
South Australia produces most of the country's wine. Locations like the Barossa Valley are home to Shiraz, but also grow great varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvèdre. The Eden Valley’s higher altitudes produce Shiraz and Riesling, as does Clare Valley’s elevated vineyards but focus on dry whites.
McLaren Vale in Southern Australia has the warm climate to guarantee tasty reds like Shiraz and cabernet, but being close to the sea means there’s great Chardonnay and Marsanne for good measure.
Victoria has the most diverse conditions resulting in a huge variety of wines. Yarra Valley is the state's best-known region, famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and the Mornington Peninsula’s cool climate works well for Pinot.
New South Wales is most famous for the Hunter Valley, home to delicate white wines, such as Hunter Semillon and Hunter Shiraz, but is also home to beautiful Tasmania, which is Australia's coolest wine-producing region, with sparkling wines and chardonnay thriving in this climate.
As there are a number of different climates, harvesting depends on the region. As Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, harvesting can begin as early as January in some of the warmer climate sites in New South Wales, while the rest will occur between the months of February and April.
With over 2,000 wine exporters sending tens of thousands of different types of wines to destinations around the world Australia is only behind France, Italy and Spain as the world's top exporters.
Find out more about other wine producing countries: