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.
Pinot Gris :Of similar origin to Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris owes most of its American popularity to Oregon winemakers (though the Willamette Valley version bears little resemblance to Italy's Pinot Grigio!). It is much less perfumed that Gewurztraminer, with very little aromatic quality. It makes up for that with its food versatility and rich extract of tree fruits such as peaches and pears. Pinot Gris exhibits and exciting spicy quality and acidity in the mouth.
Pinot Gris is generally found wherever Pinot Noir is grown, especially in France where it is to be found in Burgundy, but nowadays it is better known in Alsace. There are plantings in Germany, Italy and in Central and South-East Europe, in U.S.A. where small plantings have been established in several states, and in Australia.
In Australia, although a variety bearing that name was introduced in 1832, it is only in the 1990s that the true variety has achieved recognition by growers and consumers, with the most important but small plantings located in Victoria, and Tasmania and South Australia.
In Australia the varietal label Pinot Gris will usually indicate a wine made in the full-bodied style of Alsace in France and Germany, whilst the label Pinot Grigio will usually indicate that the wine is made in the dry, lighter, Italian-influenced style.
The vast region of South Australia is home to a wide variety of vineyards, growing a large range of different grape varietals. Because the South Australian wine region is so large, it benefits from a great array of climatic conditions – from dry and hot, to cool and windy – which wineries can use to their advantage when it comes to selecting the grape varietal they wish to thrive in a particular sub-region. South Australia is most commonly associated with the big, powerful and fruit-forward Shiraz wines which are produced in the cooler valley areas of the region, but recent decades have seen something of an explosion in the South Australian wine industry, leading to wineries expanding their repertoire enormously and experimenting with other fine grape varietals and making the most of their unique terroir.