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With its imposing size and variety of climates, it is no surprise that Australia has become not only a major presence in winemaking and wine exportation but also the producer of an immensely versatile portfolio of wines. Recently recognized as the world’s fifth largest producer, the continent exports close to 800 million liters of wine per year, with red and white nearly equally represented. These accomplishments are exceptional by any standards, but particularly by a continent originally lacking any native grapes. From weekday offerings to those gaining world-class status, Australia is undeniably a winemaking leader to be reckoned with.
Although Australia’s wine history is still relatively young when compared to many of Europe’s Old World icons, it is nonetheless impressive as a result of its swift ascendance to becoming an industry leader – a trajectory that continues to this day. Vines were initially introduced to the land by 18th century English mariners who quickly recognized the continent’s potential. Within a mere few decades, robust exportation initiated by expat Gregory Blaxland, an English farmer, was in place, with thousands of gallons being sent to England alone. (Blaxland was also the first award-winning winemaker based in Australia.) While the central part of Australia was much too hot and dry for vineyards, its many rich coastal regions and river valleys readily compensated: there are now 65 wine growing regions on the continent, and modern innovations have made it possible to produce wine in all six of its states, with the majority being produced in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia, and South Australia, which accounts for over 50% of the continent’s output.