Victorian Wine History and Culture
Wine history in Victoria began back in the 1830s, when new settlers arrived and planted vines along the coast. An English-born settler, Edward Henty, is known for having started the spread of some vines around Victoria in 1834. Then in 1838, another settler named William Ryrie started the first vineyard to make a profit in the region. Wine production really took off after a few decades, and there were more than 160 acres (65 hectares) of vineyards in Victoria by 1850. In 1852, the Australian version of the gold rush occurred in Eastern Australia; this discovery put a hold on wine production for a while [source: Walsh].
In keeping with the theme of gold, it might make sense to point out that many call the span from 1840 to 1870 the golden age for wine in Victoria. Wines were produced with high quality and care. The government passed acts during this period that led to an increase in settlements and, in turn, vineyards. Much of the Victorian wine produced at this time was light, crisp and sophisticated. Two things set Victoria back in prestige, though. Those setbacks were the ubiquitous phylloxera blight and a preference for heavier, darker wines among the population[source: Corrigan].
Victoria saw more troubled times in the 1920s when the price of certain grapes fell too low. Many growers couldn't compete and this caused a lot of the vineyards to fade away. After the two world wars, wine growers stepped up to their calling again. Some spots, like the King Valley wine region, were easily converted from tobacco farms to vineyards. Since then, Victoria has helped gain Australia notice for its quality wines.
Read on to learn how agriculture shaped this special region in Australia.