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The Dreamtime

Australia is vast. The sixth largest country by total area, it is situated on the flattest continent, with the oldest, least fertile soil; mostly found in the outback which makes up a large amount of the land mass.

The Dreamtime

Australia’s vastness however also means a great diversity in terrain, with tropical rainforests in the North-East, mountain ranges in the South-East, South-West and East, and dry desert in the centre. When Dutch explorers first discovered it in the 1600’s they found an Aboriginal population who spoke no fewer than 250 different dialects. Vast and Diverse. With a population density of 2.8 inhabitants per square kilometre, the silence is said to be absolute in parts and imbues the land with a sense of mystique. A mystique explained by the Aboriginal construct of ‘Dreamtime’, a concept that places heavy emphasis on belonging to the land. In their shared experience “Dreaming” exists before an individual is born and continues to exist when the life of that individual ends; trees, stars, rocks, watering holes and other objects might be the result of a ‘Dreaming’, thereby inextricably linking the land and the individual as they are one and the same. “We don’t own the land, the land owns us.” The Dreamtime, while representative of the continent’s great age, certainly a manifestation of their long-term geographic isolation, also tells a story about the importance of the land, the power of it. As grape vines are not native to Australia, its ability to grow and prosper here is a demonstration of that power. 

International Influences

When the British colonized Australia in the late 18th Century, the first vine cuttings Governor Philip brought to the penal colony of New South Wales were from our very own Fair Cape. These first cuttings didn’t survive, so we can’t CLAIM Australian wine outright, we’re just saying we might have had a HAND at very least; after all  there is no telling what the Dreaming would have made of our humble vines. Today Australia boasts more than 60 designated wine regions, an estimated 160 000 hectares planted to vine and somewhere around 2000 wine producers - making our offering of only six wines a very select and admittedly limited representation of the vastness we speak of. Rest assured however that the wines we offer here are at the very least an honest cross-section of the diverse nature of Australian wines today.

Australian Wine

The three main winemaking regions are South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, and up until recently the two main varietals were Shiraz and Chardonnay. Today there are about 130 different grape varieties being used by commercial Australian winemakers and they continue to explore. It would seem that the diverse terrains, the power of the soil and the innovative nature of Australian winemakers offer fertile ground to an untold number of varietals, adding the likes of Petit Verdot, Pinot grigio, Riesling and Tempranillio to the Dreaming. Similarly Australian winemakers’ wine-making techniques and general attitude are prized, known to work seasonally around the world - though total conjecture on our part, we’d wager they operate on some semblance of the Dreamtime informing their ways. Having woven a decidedly mystical thread we suggest you sample the reality, our personal favourite being the Eden Valley Riesling (given our penchant for minerally-aged Rieslings and that petrol scent). 

Published On: 04/05/2017

Daléne Fourie

Twitter @DaleneFourie

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