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Wine Spectator School

Class 1: Australia: History and Grapes


Boom and Bust

Australia's first vines arrived with the British Expeditionary Fleet in 1778.

European and English settlers planted vineyards in New South Wales where the vineyards baked in too-hot areas. Once the erstwhile farmers planted some cooler spots in Hunter Valley, things started looking up. By the 1850s, there was a brisk wine trade.

1878 brought phylloxera to Victoria and New South Wales. Among the large wine-producing states, only South Australia was spared. But just as the replanted vineyards were coming into production, many of the nation's banks failed.

In 1900, large tracts of irrigated farmland opened for development. Large quantities of then-fashionable, high-alcohol wines were produced. These wines kept some growers going...

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