AusWine Export – Australian Wine Industry Overview

In the year 1788, the same year that Australia was born, cuttings of the first vines were brought to Sydney from Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. Planted in the gardens of the then Governor of Australia they produced the first two bunches of grapes in 1791 and a new era of wine production in Australia began.

At AusWine we will explore the hidden treasures of the Wine World within Australia, and it’s true – “Wine World” as the name suggests encompasses knowledge from World Wide Wine regions brought together, consequently developing its own multinational unique style – Australian style.

Richness of colour and flavour is more intense than in many other wines available from other world regions, a style that is more and more popular every year in many countries in the world, including Poland. Australian wine is about intense fruitiness, abundance of flavour and softness of texture, brought up by warmth and sunshine. A clean taste that makes the wine instantly accessible and very drinkable now, without the need for long term cellaring.

By 1840 the commercial viticulture was well established in New South Wales, Tasmania, Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia. Its development was based on comprehensive collections of vines brought to Australia from Europe. Immigrants from Italy, Silesia, Dalmatian and Swiss contributed by bringing their international knowledge to this newborn industry. We must not forget to mention that there is a small number of boutique wineries operated by wine makers with Polish ancestors.

By the mid 1950’s the industry as we know it today took its shape with, among other things, the introduction of cold fermentation of white wines in stainless steel fermenters. In the 1970’s the introduction of the wine cask contributed to the popularity of Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay followed by the Boutique Wineries phenomenon.

Just in the last ten years the production of wine in Australia grew from 370 million litres to 977 million litres in 2001 and export from 39 million litres in 1987 to 340 million litres in 2001.

Today in Australia there is over 1,600 wineries and over 6,000 wine labels, although over 90% of wines are produced by the top 5% large, publicly owned and listed on the Australian stock exchange wineries.

The growth of the Australian wine industry and the popularity of its wines can be attributed to two things. And the history of wine making as France or Italy has, is not one of them. First is the emphasis on technology, hygiene and minimal oxidisation. Australian wines have been criticised for being too clean, however the crisp and fresh taste of fruit in Chardonnay that really tastes like melon, peach or berries with a fragrance as intense, is a trade off that I will take any day. The second factor is the keenness of Australian winemakers to share their experiences and ideas with each other and learn – and the result as they say ‘is in the pudding’.

Some interesting figures from 2001:

The UK last year imported 165 million litres of Australian wines
Germany, over 13 million litres of Australian wines
USA 68 million litres of Australian wines
New Zealand 22 million litres of Australian wines
Canada 15 million litres of Australian wines
France 5 million litres of Australian wines

In total Australia exported some 340 million litres of Australian wine.

Whilst Australia is not the biggest producer or exporter of wines, its contribution especially in Europe is quite significant considering the powers of wine producing countries like France, Italy and Germany.

At the recent Wine Evolution 2002 Conference in London, a comment was made that if the current trends continue the French may have to relinquish their top position on “High Street”. Australia will still be competing with France for the top spot on High Street next year, however New World Wines will continue it’s UK domination.