Wine History

Welcome to the Wine History website, managed by The Australian Wine Research Institute.

The purpose of this website is to act as a repository of historical and current information relating to innovations in grape and wine production.

The information on this site is accessible to everyone, and the copyright is maintained by The Australian Wine Research Institute on behalf of the Australian wine industry.


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Date or time period Event
Pre-historic period The history of winemaking parallels that of civilization
6000 BC Wine emerges with civilization from the East
5000 BC Ancient winemaking spreads from Egypt and Phoenicia
5000 BC Wine references in Egypt and Phoenicia
4500 BC Wine produced in Greece, Crete and the far East
1500 BC Wine first arrived in southern Europe and northern Africa
500 BC Wine produced in India, China and most parts of Europe
200 Romans began with wood cooperage and the use of barrels
400 Progress in wine technology slowed down
1500 Introduction of vines and winemaking in the New World
1600s Rapid increase in use of cork as a seal for wine bottles
1630s First report of glass bottles for wine storage
1680 First microscopic observation of yeast cells
1700s Appearance of vintage, age-worthy wines
1750s First cork factory
1768 Hydrometer readings of sugar levels in wine
1769 First isolation of tartaric acid from grapes
1789 First demonstration that ethanol formed by the fermentation of sugar
1799 Grape sugar identified as glucose
1800s Bordeaux mixture for downy control
1815 Quantification of sugar fermentation
1823 First measurement of alcohol
1824 First record of grape hybridisation
1824 First reference to oak chips
1847 First control measure for powdery mildew
1850s Introduction of the first vine pruning system
1858 First observation of bacteria in wine
1860s Application of sulfur dust to control fungal disease and outbreak of phylloxera
1862 Introduction of the process of pasteurisation
1864 First observation of reduction in wine acidity
1864 First proof that fermentation is carried out by living cells of yeast
1866 First recognition of importance of wine phenolics
1875 Accurate measurement of alcohol by ebulliometery
1875 Introduction of the concept of phylloxera-resistant rootstock
1878 Discovery of enzymes
1881 Acceptance grafting scions onto rootstocks
1888 Isolation of pure yeast cultures
1890 Inoculation of wine fermentation with pure yeast cultures
1890s Grapevine breeding and emergence of French hybrids
1890s In California, rootstocks were imported
1891 Bacteria identified as cause of malic acid conversion
1892 Ripper method developed for measuring SO2 in wine
1895 Tannin concentration in wine
1897 Discovery of the ‘fermentation enzyme’
1900 Inoculation of wine with malolactic bacteria
1901 Method development for measurements of wine composition
1910s Flor yeast introduced
1911 Ratio of fruit weight to wood recognised as the key to vine productivity and fruit quality
1920s Centrifuge technology for clarifying juice and wine first used in Australia
1920s Vine improvement programs
1925 Ratchet basket press
1927 SO2 analysis
1930s Cold stabilisation of wine first applied
1930s Importance of pH control in winemaking recognised
1930s Introduction of grape yield forecasting
1930s Pectolytic enzymes introduced
1930s Vine breeding programs
1934 Bentonite for wine clarification
1935 Closterovirus recognized as the cause of leaf roll
1935 Elucidation of the life cycle of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast
1935 Yeast propagation introduced
1936 Soil-borne nematodes recognised as damaging pests of grapevines
1940s Bench-grafting large-scale production of resistant rootstocks
1940s Degree day index for regional climate classification
1940s Diatomaceous earth filtration introduced
1940s New disease control measures
1940s Rootstock propagation in nurseries formalised
1940s The use of refrigeration in fermentation
1942 Ethylene polymer cork-like product patented
1943 Control of bacterial spoilage of fortified wines by pH
1943 Discovery of Saccharomyces cerevisiae mating types and genetic crossing of yeast
1943 Problem of bacterial spoilage in fortified wine solved by Fornachon
1946 Heliothermic Index developed
1947 Vine prunings mainly ceased to be burnt in the vineyard
1948 First stainless steel grape receival area
1950s Development of drip irrigation systems
1950s Development of gas chromatography to allow study of aroma compounds
1950s First attempts to mechanise grape harvesting
1950s Grapevine fanleaf virus described
1950s Improved filtration
1950s Inert gas cover
1950s Introduction of refrigeration allows production of high quality white wines in warmer climates
1950s MLF observed in Australian wines
1950s The release of nematode-resistant rootstocks
1950s Tissue analysis for determination of nutrient status
1950s Use of small oak barrels becomes prevalent in New World winemaking
1952 Introduction of non-sulfur powdery mildew control agents
1953 First major vineyard planted
1953 Postulation of the double helical structure of DNA
1953 Pressure fermentation tanks
1956 Bag-in-box idea for wine packaging patented
1957 First horizontal air bag press
1958 Establishment of Foundation Plant Material Service in California
1958 First clonal selection program initiated in Australia
1959 First automatic bottling line introduced
1960 Development of first membranes for reverse osmosis
1960 Introduction of balanced pruning
1960 The concept of a horizontal drum pressed was patented
1960s Commercial use of growth regulators
1960s Continuous improvement of refrigerated stainless steel fermentors
1960s Development of high-level grafting techniques for top-working
1960s Development of the first vertical stroke action mechanical harvesters
1960s Elucidation of canopy management principles
1960s Indicator vines used for indexing of grapevine viruses
1961 First continuous centrifuge
1961 Introduction of broad-spectrum fungicides for powdery mildew control
1962 First 'Potter' fermenters introduced
1962 First Botrytis sweet Semillon made
1962 Importation of vine cultivars
1962 Use of temperature controlled wine storage facility
1964 Further understanding of phenolic composition of grapes and wine
1964 Stainless steel fermenters introduced
1965 Application of bag-in-box packaging of wine
1965 Development of metal twist-off bottle closures
1965 Introduction of automated remuage for sparkling wine production
1965 Introduction of first commercial active dry wine yeast starter cultures
1966 Establishment of the complete genetic code
1966 First new varieties brought into South Australia
1966 New analytical method for the isolation of wine tannins
1967 First use of sprinklers for frost control
1967 Flow-tap for bag-in-box packaging patented
1968 The beginning of the development of salt-tolerant rootstocks
1969 Dried yeast introduced
1969 First machine harvester brought to Australia
1970s Canopy management expanded across a range of climates
1970s Drip irrigation widely adopted in Australia
1970s Emergence of minimal pruning
1970s Further improvements in mechanical harvesting technology
1970s Importance of pH in red winemaking
1970s Improvements in mechanical harvesting technology
1970s Lyre trellis system developed
1970s Selection and comparison of Vitis vinifera clones became standard practice in Australia
1970s Stelvin sealed wines introduced into the Australian market
1970s Understanding of fundamental grapevine biology improved
1972 Agglomerate corks
1972 Development of the Potter drainer and fermentor
1972 Import of first mechanical harvester in Australia and rapid uptake of mechanisation
1972 Rotary drum vacuum filter developed
1973 Introduction of new fungicides for disease control in vineyards
1973 Rotary fermentors developed
1973 Spread of grapevine yellows elucidated
1973 The first cloning experiments with recombinant DNA
1974 The potent flavour compound damascenone identified in grapes
1975 Flavour chemistry of Muscat varieties understood
1975 Mechanical pruning of grapevines
1975 Methoxypyrazines first identified in grapes
1976 The first use of NIR for alcohol measurements
1977 Chemical age index for wine published
1978 Continuous screw press patented
1978 First transformation of yeast with cloned DNA
1978 Infrared aerial photography used for phylloxera detection
1979 Link between H2S production and must nitrogen content revealed
1980 Climatic classifications published
1980 Foamed thermoplastic resin cork patented
1980s A new biotype of phylloxera kills grafted vines
1980s Development of regulated deficit irrigation strategies
1980s Development of the Te-Kauwahata twin-tier and Scott-Henry training systems
1980s First DNA techniques for reliable wine yeast strain identification
1980s First hybrid rootstocks released
1980s Further development of mechanical pruning systems
1980s Interactive physiological effect of rootstocks on fruit composition
1980s Mechanisation of leaf removal, shoot positioning and lifting of foliage wires
1980s Minimal pruning shown to be valid in cool climates
1980s Relationship between pH and SO2
1980s Release of improved French hybrid varieties
1980s Research on the effect of harvesters on the dispersal and spread of crawlers
1980s Research on the effect of mechanised crop thinning, pruning and harvesting
1980s Role of grape derived precursors in releasing monoterpenes recognised
1980s Rootstock resistant to all phylloxera biotypes released
1980s Screw cap wines largely removed from the Australian market
1981 Continuous starter culture production
1981 Patent for diaphragm press filed
1982 Cork taint
1983 First use of HCN as dormancy breaker for improved budburst
1984 Wine aroma wheel developed
1984 Yellow speckle viroid detected in grapevine
1985 A patent filed for the use of reverse osmosis for alcohol reduction
1988 Foundation of the Australian Vine Improvement Association
1988 Patent filed for Spinning Cone technology for alcohol removal and aroma capture
1990 Application of ethephon and paclobutralzol to inhibit vegetative growth
1990 First genetically engineered prototype wine yeast
1990s Australian producers begin to return to the screw cap
1990s Bio-pesticides
1990s DNA profiling used to determine parentage of 'old' grape varieties
1990s Development of Partial Rootzone Drying (PRD) irrigation
1990s Development of integrated mechanical pruning and harvesting systems
1990s Development of mechanical shoot thinning machines
1990s Development of more precise barrel prunning mechanical systems
1990s Glycosidase enzymes for liberating bound flavour commercially applied
1990s Introduction of precision agriculture through remote sensing technologies
1990s New MLF cultures introduced
1990s Recognition that numerous flavour compounds in wine derive from glycoside precursors
1990s The Smart-Dyson system for control of bunch exposure developed
1990s The release broad-spectrum strobilurin fungicides
1991 Development micro-oxygenation technology
1992 Biologically-effective day degrees adjusted for latitude and daily temperature range
1992 New hybrid wine yeast strains developed and commercialised
1993 Commercialisation of the first freeze-dried cultures of malolactic
1993 DNA fingerprinting used for grape variety identification
1994 Patent filed for a reverse osmosis process to remove unwanted substances
1995 Flavour precursor G-G assay developed
1996 Characterisation of the malolactic enzyme system
1996 Genetic bluepint of first Saccharomyces cerevisiae revealed
1996 Method for measuring grape colour developed
1997 First systematic review of stuck fermentation
1998 Amino acid precursors in grapes release potent thiol compounds
1999 Benchmark trial of different bottle closures
2000 Clare Valley producers bottle 2000 vintage Riesling under screw cap
2000 First application of consumer acceptance testing in wine research
2000s Approaches to minimise risks of spoilage by Brettanomyces
2000s Better understanding of the relationship between tannin and quality
2000s Commercialisation of a flavour-enhancing mixture of three wine yeasts
2000s Commercialisation of a wine yeast for the reduction of ethyl carbamate formation
2000s Commercialisation of wine yeasts for the reduction of H2S
2000s Commercialisation of malolactic wine yeast
2000s Commercialisation of new interspecific yeast strains
2000s Construction of a wine yeast deletion library
2000s Detection of compounds in smoke affected grapes & wine
2000s Development of flavour-enhancing wine yeast prototypes
2000s Development of in-bottle measurement of oxygen
2000s Development of low-alcohol wine yeast prototypes
2000s Discovery of thiols in fruity white wines
2000s Elucidation of relationship between anthocyanin degradation and berry temperature
2000s Flavour scalping by some bottle closures
2000s Links between composition and perceived coarseness in white wines explored
2000s Malolactic bacteria found to increase oakiness in wine
2000s Nitrogen management in vineyards and winery for optimal wine quality
2000s Precision agriculture and remote sensing
2000s Rapid spectral methods developed to analyse anthocyanins and predict tannin
2000s Salt-tolerant rootstocks released
2000s The use of oak chips permitted in the EU
2000s Tools with which to manage environmental conditions
2000s Varietal differentiation of grape juices by protein fingerprinting
2005 Development of a simple tannin assay
2005 Genetic blueprint of the first malolactic bacterial strain revealed
2007 Discovery of rotundone in peppery Shiraz
2007 Genetic blueprint of the first grapevine variety revealed
2008 Elucidation of relationship between berry and wine quality
2008 Genetic blueprint of the first wine yeast strain revealed
2009 Chemical characterisation of wild ferment wines
2009 Crystal structure for grape haze-forming protein solved
2009 Discovery of cineole as the cause of minty eucalypt character in red wine
2009 Expanded consumer preferences studies in emerging markets
2009 First commercialisation of a true Saccharomyces bayanus yeast for enhancing wine flavour
2009 Genome sequencing and comparisons among grape varieties and clones
2009 Genome sequencing and comparisons among malolactic bacteria
2009 Genome sequencing and comparisons among wine yeasts
Beyond 2010 Automated expert systems
Beyond 2010 Continuous systems
Beyond 2010 Genetically improved bacteria, yeasts and grapevines
Beyond 2010 Heat-proof management systems
Beyond 2010 Native plants as cover crops
Beyond 2010 Objective quality measures
Beyond 2010 Objective definitions of wine styles
Beyond 2010 Predictive Biology
Beyond 2010 Real-time yield estimations
Beyond 2010 Real-time, automated irrigation systems
Beyond 2010 Robotic pruners and other devices
Beyond 2010 Selective mechanical harvesters
Beyond 2010 Synthetic Biology
Beyond 2010 ‘Omics, bioinformatics and Computational and Systems Biology