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The winds of change are blowing hard through the vineyards of Australia: in 1985 one-third of Australia's production was of premium grape varieties; by 1995 it will be two-thirds. In 1970 Riesling and Semillon were the only premium white varieties grown in commercial quantities. Less than 50 tonnes of Chardonnay grapes were crushed in that year, but the 1995 harvest will provide about 80,000 tonnes - more than any other variety. These plus the other premium white-grape varieties -Chenin Blanc, Colombard and Sauvignon Blanc - are now inexorably replacing the old low-quality, local varieties as the principal grapes in Riverlands vineyards.

The number of premium winegrowing districts is increasing. In 1960 New South Wales had two areas, the Lower Hunter Valley and Mudgee; Victoria had the North-East, Great Western and Goulburn Valley; South Australia had the Barossa and Clare valleys, the Southern Vales and Coonawarra; and Western Australia had the Swan Valley. In all, there were less than 100 wineries, three-quarters of them in South Australia. In 1993 the wine industry constructed a legal framework delimiting more than 100 regions (within large zones) and countless sub-regions of which half were then of commercial importance and were home to 750 wineries. Many of Australia's traditional wine districts are now included in newly designated zones.

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