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It is seen by the following statement that the consumption and the percentage which Cape bore to all other kinds was :
In 1831, consumption 539,584 gallons and 8:48 percentage
5.81 1861, 340,082
3.16 1862, 182,282
1.86 1863, 116,500
Its Wine generally Bad— Vines sent to Adelaide—Better to apply
her Capital and Labour to her natural Productions—Vineyards at Beechworth and Albury-Newspaper Extracts.
\HE first Australian wine I ever tasted was shown
to me by the late Mr. Porter, then Secretary of the Board of Trade ; and it was very bad. Since that time I have tasted it frequently, but only once have I found it so good as to dispose one to take a second glass. With this single exception, it has been poor, flavourless, and thin. The exception was a six-dozen case of white and of red, sent as a present to a gentleman who has large property near Melbourne. Both of these were good, cleanflavoured qualities; but not better than may be easily procured in Germany and France.
So far as I can learn, Australia is not well adapted, either by soil or climate, for growing wine, and this opinion seems confirmed by the unsuccessful efforts of many years.
So long ago as 1835, I sent many hundreds of vines to Adelaide, by desire of a very intelligent wine merchant ; but no good came of it. Even if soil and climate were favourable, the fact of its being a thinly-peopled land must prevent the cultivation and making of fine qualities. It is almost literally true that the vine requires daily manual labour, from the 1st of January to the 31st of December, and this can be done only in old countries, with a large population, and low wages.
Australia must wait many years before she is in such a position; and she will, in the meantime, be more profitably employed in cultivating her great natural resources, and exchanging these for the wines of Europe. Being one of our colonies, her produce was charged the same as that of the Cape; but, even with such assistance, the importations of wine never rose above two or three hundred pipes yearly.
Since writing the above, I find the following remarks by the correspondent of The Times, dated Melbourne, April 20, 1863. They confirm the opinion I have expressed as to the little progress in wine-making in Australia. The ll. per gallon which Mr. Zimmermann gets at his vineyard, is 21. per dozen ; and this appears to be without bottles, corks, &c. :
At Beechworth, and in all the surrounding country extending to Albury, in New South Wales, the finest vineyards abound. By far the most successful wine-makers are Germans. A Mr. Zimmermann, at Beechworth, has well-managed vineyard of an acre and a quarter in extent. Upon the proceeds of the sale of wine and fruit from this small bit of ground, he, his wife, and a very nearly
grown-up son, live comfortably. He gets il. a gallon on the spot for all the wine he can make, and for the table, he obtained this year, from 200 three-year old vines, the enormous quantity of 1,600 lbs. of the finest grapes. But the vineyard is cultivated like a trim garden, and is so much his pet, that be sleeps in it. Like his namesake of the Treatise, Mr. Zimmermann seems to have a taste for solitude, and he passes his nights (until his crop is in) concealed in a little tent, in the midst of his vines, with a gun by his side, and surrounded by a system of strings connected with bells, so that when larcenious Chinamen venture into his ground, the bells ring, and the owner is aroused against his invaders. Mr. Zimmermann is merely one of many German cultivators in this part who are doing equally well. The statistical returns of the first quarter of this year for the Albury district (which, as well as Beechworth, is in the neighbourhood of the Murray River) give, besides wheat, hay, maize, barley, oats, potatoes, &c., 60,840 lbs. of tobacco, and 40,360 gallons of wine.
I find in a Sydney newspaper the following very interesting and instructive information on the production of wine in Australia. Notwithstanding the attempt to make it appear that the growth is increasing, and that wine-making may become a profitable investment, the facts do not appear to justify the hope :
Australian Wine.--The production of wine now constitutes so important a branch of colonial industry, that the annual vintages are looked forward to with considerable interest. Every year shows a marked increase in the amount of capital invested, and in the number of people employed in the vineyards, although, owing to the precariousness of the crops, that increase is not necessarily attended with a corresponding increase in the quantity produced. The vintage of 1863 has been by no means a prosperous one. The actual quantity of wine produced is not perhaps much less than that of previous seasons, but it is considerably less as compared with the acreage of vines in bearing, many of the growers baving, for some time past, been extending their operations. The accounts received, generally express disappointment at the results of the gathering. In the Hunter River district, where the greater portion of wines are produced, the continuance of dry weather during the early part of the summer was very propitious, and promise was given of an unusually abundant crop; but just before the ripening of the grapes
; heavy rains set in, accompanied with violent hailstorms, causing great damage, and interrupting the gathering—the rains continuing during the vintage. In other districts the want of rain in the early part of the summer checked the growth of the vines. It would appear that fully a third of the crop has perished. It is estimated that in the Paterson district the produce has not exceeded two hundred gallons to the acre. Other circumstances besides the weather have operated to frustrate the expectations of plentiful crops; amongst these may be mentioned the depredations of flying foxes, parrots, and other birds.
At the Camden Park Vineyards, belonging to Sir W. and Mr. J. Macarthur, the dry weather favoured the growth and ripening of the grapes, but a considerable loss was sustained by the depredations of birds, and only between two and three thousand gallons of wine were made. Three years ago a succession of devastating floods swept over the Camden Park Vineyards, completely destroying the vines, and though they have been extensively replanted, they have not yet been restored to their condition prior to those disasters. Messrs. Wyndham, the largest growers in the colony, have made about 14,000 gallons from their vineyards at Dalwood, on the Hunter, which are above sixty acres in extent; of these about thirty-five are in bearing. They have also made nearly 5,000 gallons at Bukkulla, in the Gwydir district, after