When someone mentions Australia, you may first think of kangaroos, the Sydney Opera House, surfing or the Outback -- but for a lot of people, great wine is moving up that list. Although it hasn't always been known for high-quality wine, Australia is now responsible for 4 to 5 percent of the world's wine market [source: A Nice Drop]. That's especially impressive considering the rough climate of much of the land down under.
Western Australia is tropical in the north and temperate in the south. It's home to many hundreds of winemakers, with most of them in the southwest portion of the state. These wine regions include:
- Great Southern
- Margaret River
- Blackwood Valley
- Perth Hills
- Swan District
[source: West Australia Wine]
Many countries use an Appellation of Origin to distinguish their fine wines. Australia is a little different: It just uses a Geographical Indication (GI). Winemakers use the regional names listed above to identify their wines, and these names have been registered for protection [source: Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation]. Because of this, it's easier to identify a good wine from Australia simply looking at the name on the label than it is for wines of many other countries.
So how did a country that started out as a penal colony rise to fame in the wine industry? In this article, we'll explore the history and culture of Western Australia's wine regions. Then we'll take a peek at the agriculture in the area and learn how the region's physical geography has affected winemaking. Finally we'll become acquainted with some famous Western Australian wines, both whites and reds, and some vineyards to check out should you decide to make this region a vacation destination.
Read on to learn how grape vines made their way to this island continent in the Southern Hemisphere.