10 of Australia’s best wine regions

By Ken Eastwood July 4, 2013
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Australians produce over one billion litres of wine a year. Here are some of the top spots to enjoy wineries in action.

IMAGINE MORE THAN 400 Olympic swimming pools filled with wine. That’s Australia’s current annual production of shiraz, chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon and about 130 other wine varieties.

We make more than a billion litres of the stuff a year (down from a peak of 1.4 billion litres in 2005). The produce comes from 1.6 million tonnes of grapes grown on 1600sq.km of vineyards.

We are also innovators of the industry: Australian winemakers not only invented the wine cask, but also pioneered screw-cap tops because of a lack of quality cork.

Australia exports more than two-thirds of its wine. Still each of us manages to quaff 23L per year, making us the highest English-speaking consumers of wine per capita. To put it in perspective, the French drink more than twice that amount per head.

GALLERY: See 10 of the best Australian wine regions

The history of Australian wine

Australia’s winemaking history began with Captain Arthur Phillip’s grapevines, which suffered from black spot after their journey over on the First Fleet.

Three years later, 1.2ha of vines planted at Government House on the Parramatta River, New South Wales, were faring better. But it wasn’t until well-researched Scottish viticulturist James Busby arrived in 1824, and started planting in the Hunter Valley, that the industry took off.

New South Wales was Australia’s major wine producer until the late 19th century, when Victoria took over. Nowadays, South Australia produces nearly half the annual yield, New South Wales about a third, and Victoria around 15 per cent.

Australia is consistently among the world’s top 10 producers, making about 4 per cent of the world’s wines.

Ten of Australia’s top wine regions are:

1. Barossa Valley, SA
2. Coonawarra, SA
3. Hunter Valley, NSW
4. Margaret River, WA
5. McLaren Vale, SA
6. Riverland, SA
7. Riverina, NSW
8. Rutherglen, VIC
9. Tamar Valley, TAS
10. Yarra Valley, VIC

GALLERY: See 10 of the best Australian wine regions