The Semillon varietal grape has been planted and cultivated in several countries throughout Europe and the New World for a considerable length of time, and was at one point thought to be the most widely planted grape in the world. Indeed, for a period in the 19th century, it made up for over ninety percent of South Africa's wine industry, and was equally prodigious in Australia and elsewhere. Today, its number may have dropped, but it remains and strong and popular grape varietal, loved by wineries for the fact it is hardy and reliable. The golden colored grapes of the Semillon vine are possibly most appreciated when made into various French wines, where they are often aged in oak, a wood it has a particular affinity for.
Whilst most of Australia consists of arid deserts and dense bushland, the oceanic coasts to the south of the country have a terrain and climate ideal for vine cultivation and wine production. It took several decades of failed attempts at the end of the 18th century in order to produce vines of a decent enough quality for making wine, but since those first false starts, the Australian wine industry has continued to grow and grow. Today, wine production makes up for a considerable part of the Australian economy, with exports in recent years reaching unprecedented levels and even overtaking France for the first time ever. Whilst the greatest successes in regards to quality have been the result of the Syrah grape varietal (known locally as Shiraz), Australia utilizes several Old World grapes, and has had fantastic results from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Riesling, Chardonnay and more. As the Australian passion for locally produced wine continues to develop, wineries have begun experimenting with a wider range of grape varietals, meaning that nowadays it isn't uncommon to find high quality Australian wines made from Petit Verdot, Sangiovese, Tempranillo and Viognier, amongst many others.