Australian influence

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

Australian influence, on wine production, marketing, and even distribution is difficult to overestimate. When the chips are finally counted, Australia will be credited with having had an enormous influence on the wine world of the late 20th century. Its viticulturists (notably the viticulture editor of this book) pioneered sophisticated canopy management techniques and all sorts of tricks such as niceties of irrigation (see partial rootzone drying) and hi-tech soil mapping. Australia’s winemakers travelled the world—especially the northern hemisphere where the harvest conveniently takes place during the southern hemisphere lull—quietly infiltrating all manner of wineries with Australian technology, obsession with hygiene, and record water usage (see flying winemakers). One of their distinguishing marks is their commitment to long hours, ignoring weekends and evenings, at the critical periods during and immediately after harvest. Graduates of oenology and viticulture courses at Australian universities such as adelaide and charles sturt university are now dispersed around the world, and the australian wine research institute (AWRI) is increasingly recognized as one of the most important, and practical, forces in academe. It is significant that the world’s largest and canniest wine company, E & J gallo of California, deliberately recruited an Australian to lead its wine research department into the new millennium. Australia overtook France to be most important exporter of wine to the UK, one of the world’s most significant wine importers, at the beginning of the century, and went on to perform the same trick in the US, but Australian wine was this popular only temporarily with Americans. The spectacular success of yellow tail tarnished its image so that it came to be dismissively associated with ‘critter brands’. Such was Australia’s late-20th-century success at developing and selling brands to suit the modern international marketplace that for many years it was seen as a model even by such experienced wine exporters as the French. Alliances between Australian companies and global players in the drinks trade have been a notable feature of the globalization of the wine trade (see australia—Wine trade organization).