chapter  9
14 Pages

From European roots to Australian wine

International exchanges of agricultural knowledge in the nineteenth-century Australian wine industry
ByChelsea Davis

When the British government established Australia as a penal colony in the 1780s, they struggled to designate suitable agricultural commodities for their new territory. Several colonists felt that wine production could be introduced, which would “civilise” the convict colony. To make this economically sustainable, and in the spirit of “improvement,” colonists sought to reform the wine industry through an exchange and importation of agricultural knowledge from Europeans. As a result, early Australian settlers travelled to vineyards across Europe, attended agricultural schools, and read manuals published by viticultural experts. In some cases, British colonists were able to recruit European vignerons to immigrate to the Australian colonies and directly assist in vine growing and wine production. Other immigrants seeking religious freedom, wealth from gold mining, or simply a fresh start also unintentionally brought with them years of viticultural experience. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, global exchanges in agricultural knowledge related to wine production increased with the onset of the viticultural disaster known as phylloxera. Many Australian colonists relied on Euro-American knowledge and technology to overcome the resulting environmental devastation. These exchanges in knowledge and Euro-American agronomic influences laid the foundation for Australia’s international industry in the twentieth century.