In Acknowledging Its Uncomfortable History, The Australian Wine Industry Will Only Benefit.

Acknowledgement of Country: This article was written on the land of the Wurundjeri People of the Kulin Nation. I would like to pay my respects to the Traditional Owners and their Elders, past, present and emerging.

Source: Anna Bailey, Redfern, New South Wales

Key dates in Australian Wine History

New South Wales, across the water from Sydney Cove.
Image courtesy of the Australian Bureau of Stastics

The Uncomfortable History

The first grapes were transplanted into the settler heart of the nation in Sydney Cove adjacent to Circular Quay in 1788. British colonists wanted to produce wine in Australia to recreate European traditions. They saw wine as a symbol of civilisation, historically and culturally.

Image courtesy of Anna Bailey

“ If Australian wine is going to reflect its true terroir, it has to involve First Australians.”- Gary Green, Mount Yengo Wines

Terroir is a commonly used word in viticulture. It translates as, “a sense of place”. However, its meaning is more complex. Scott McWilliam, Global Ambassador of McWilliams Wines believes that 80% of a wine’s flavour comes from its terroir.

Voice of Nicole Bilson, Sommelier, Wine and Spirit Educator, Writer and Consultant.
Photo courtesy of Anastasia Telvak

The Art of Asking

A terroir centric approach involves telling the stories of how humans and nature shaped and continue to shape the wine, and communicating that to wider audiences.

Alcohol Abuse is an Australian Issue

Consuming more than two standard drinks per day on average is considered risky drinking behaviour. The Australian Human Rights Commission says several factors cause alcohol consumption at risky levels.

Source: Anna Bailey Location: Redfern, New South Wales

Why Would a Treaty Help?

The ability for wine professionals to reach out to local Indigenous councils is heavily affected by the fact that Australia has no treaties with its Aboriginal people.

Source: Anna Bailey location: Blackhearts and Sparrows, Richmond, Victoria

Native Grapes and Australian Grapes: Mateship in a Bottle?

Viticulture and hospitality are professions built on listening, sharing and experimenting. Australian winemakers have much more freedom to experiment and blend than European winemakers. There is a growing interest in blending Indigenous Australian grapes with traditional wine grapes. When Max Allen travelled to Yuin Country on the south coast of New South Wales, Aboriginal Elder Uncle Noel Butler showed him some Indigenous grapes and asked him if they would make good wine.

From Grape to Glass: How Other Professionals Can Do Their Bit?

Although winemakers play a pivotal role in shifting the producer centric narrative of the wine industry, other professionals are equally important to changing the narrative. Wine knowledge is often acquired through storytelling.

Be Brave

Australia’s wine professionals are known for being brave and fearless. They have unparalleled freedom to explore winemaking and how they talk about wine. They can channel Australia’s larrikin spirit into shifting how the wine industry tells its story and make it uniquely Australian story; one that not only acknowledges its history but works with it to celebrate Australian terroir and the treasures that come with it.

--

--

Globally minded multimedia storyteller and ethnographic photographer, obsessed with food, coffee, travelling and history, and current affairs

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
ALbailey

Globally minded multimedia storyteller and ethnographic photographer, obsessed with food, coffee, travelling and history, and current affairs