In our first installment on Australian wines, we discussed Australia’s wine history. As is to be expected in wine country development, regions become established based on topography, climate, soil, and many other factors. Immigrants and entrepreneurs with an eye to what makes good wine production have a lot to do with where wine regions begin, and Australian wine regions are no exception.
Including the island of Tasmania, there are six states and three territories. For our purposes, all of these places will be called “states.” (We aren’t distinguishing the political differences that make a state a state and a territory a territory.)
That said, wine is produced in every state, together comprising over 60 separate wine regions. The primary producers are the typically cooler southern areas: South Australia, New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
Australian law states that any wine labeled with a particular variety, must contain at least 85% of that wine. The major players from Australia are Shiraz (Syrah), Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Semillon, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Riesling.
Domestically, Australians consume 40% of the wine they produce, while exporting the remaining 60%. The 40% consumed is a huge amount! According to Jacob’s Creek, Australians consume 523 million liters of wine a year, 456 million (87%) of which are domestic and 67 million liters (13%) of which are imported. Australians are quite partial to their own wine!
From the French competitions of the late 1880s to now, Australia has become the world’s fourth largest wine exporter, but the numbers are what tell the tale. The U.S. imported 20 million cases of Australian wine in 2004, and in 2000 the Aussies beat out France for the first time in exports to the UK.
But not all is sweetness and Shiraz in the Australian wine world. Next: devastation and abundance!