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Over 1.5 million bottles of Australian wine are sold overseas every day. That's a staggering figure but it has not been an overnight achievement. The wine industry here has taken almost 200 years to bloom into its current state after its first taste of international acclaim in the early 1800s.
The first vines arrived in Australia in 1788 with Captain Phillip on board one of the ships of the First Fleet. Unfortunately, the vines did not bear as expected, and were soon transplanted to a new location at Parramatta.In following years, many others attempted to establish winegrape growing and wine-making ventures in various regions of the colony.
Notable amongst these were the pioneering efforts of Captain John McArthur, to whom a grant of land some thirty miles from Sydney was made, and which he named Camden Park.
Another important figure was Mr G. Blaxland, who in 1822 shipped 136 litres of wine to London where it won the Silver Medal of the Society for Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, now known as the Royal Society of Arts. Five years later, a larger shipment of 1800 litres of Blaxland's wine won the Gold Ceres Medal.
The first export excursions of the fledgling Australian wine industry were certainly successful and showed great promise for the future.
As European settlement spread over the Australian continent, so did the planting and propagation of the vine. By the turn of this century, Australian exports to the United Kingdom had developed to the stage where annual shipments reached almost one million gallons (4.5 million litres) of mainly full-bodied, dry red wines.
By the end of World War II, Australia was producing almost 26 million gallons (117 million litres) of wine per year. It was however the rapid influx of post-war migrants from continental Europe who brought with them their well-established wine culture which pushed the Australian wine industry into the next phase of growth.
The annual production of beverage wine as at 2004 stands around 1 034 million litres of which more than 50% is now exported to over 104 countries throughout the World.
Winegrape growing and wine-making are now carried out in every State and Territory of Australia, employing around 30,000 people.