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RAINS, FLYING FOXES, AND PARROTS.
losing about a thousand gallons through the unseasonable rains. The yield at Cawarra Vineyards, on the Upper Paterson, belonging to Dr. Lindemann, has been about an average. The long-continued drought, which ruined other crops, was extremely favourable to the development of the vines, and the abundance and fine quality of the grapes augured a splendid vintage, it being expected that, from some parts of the vineyard, a thousand gallons would be obtained to the acre. Heavy rains set in, however, just before the grapes ripened, and a further loss was sustained by the depredations of parrots, who visited the vineyards in immense swarms, destroying a great quantity of fruit. Dr. Lindemann has made about 6,000 gallons, rather more than half of what he expected. His vineyards are about twenty acres in extent.
Messrs. A. and J. Park, of Lewinsbrook, on the Allyn, a branch of the Paterson, made about 4,000 gallons, but unfortunately a fire broke out soon after the vintage, and the whole was destroyed. At Orindinna, on the Paterson, Mr. Glennie made about 1,500 gallons from sixteen acres. Mr. A. Windeyer's vineyards, at Kinross, near Raymond Terrace, comprising about fifteen acres, yielded 3,000 gallons, considerable Josses having been sustained by the rains and birds. At the Kaludah Vineyard, near Lochinvar, on the Hunter, the prospects in December were very good, but a hailstorm in the middle of that month did considerable damage, and although this vineyard did not suffer so much as others in the district, the loss from that and subsequent rains was at least 2,000 gallons. The produce is nearly 6,000 gallons, which is a little in excess of last year, and is considered a fair average
a as to quantity, but it is doubted whether the quality will be equal to that of last year's wines. Mr. Carmichael has made about 4,000 gallons of wine, from ten acres of vines, at Porphyry, near Raymond Terrace. At Irrawang, Mr. C. Linz has made 950 gallons, from eight acres. At Mulgoa, near Penrith, Mr. Edward Cox has made about a thousand gallons from ten acres. This is only about half an average, the vines having suffered considerably for want of moisture during the early part of summer, and the grapes being small, and not abundant. In the Albury district, the vines to some extent suffered from the rains, but the vintage is reported to be on the whole a successful one. It is satisfactory to notice the steady advance which our wines have made in public estimation, and the extent to which they are displacing foreign importations. The Australian wines are now supplied at all the hotels, clubs, and other places of resort, and also at public and private dinner tables. They have become generally popular-sooner than might have been expected, considering the influence of custom and deeply-rooted prejudices. The demand is certainly increasing at a much faster rate than the production. This year's vintage will be far from supplying a twelvemonth's consumption; and it is not unlikely that its partial failure may, by making the article comparatively scarce, enhance its value.
Already the price of colonial wines is complained of as being too high, and as tending to check consumption amongst the classes by whom they ought especially to be drunk. It may seem surprising that the growers generally do not largely extend their operations, so as to be prepared to meet the increasing demand. The reason is probably the large, and for a long time unremunerative, ontlay it would involve, as the vines do not yield till the third year after planting ; besides which, experience proves the vine crop to be an extremely precarious one. It is one indication of the supply not keeping pace with the demand that, although wine does not attain maturity under three years, there is now none for sale older than 1861. Some wines find their way to the Sydney market under foreign titles, having undergone some improvement' for the purpose of assimilating their flavour to that of the wines they are intended to represent. It is quite possible that the wines of this colony may be made to resemble certain European
SOUTH AUSTRALIAN WINES.
vintages; but it does not follow that they should be the better appreciated, for having undergone that sophistication. The wide popularity of the Camden, Cawarra, and Dalwood wines proves the existence of a relish for the pure juice of the grape; and so highly are they esteemed, that with colonial wine-drinkers the names of those vineyards are a greater recommendation than the most pretentious French title. However well meant may be the intentions of those who endeavour to improve our wines, there are significant indications that their services are not much appreciated.
On July 1 next, the Sale of Colonial Wines Encouragement Bill will come into operation, and any person will then be able to sell a single bottle of colonial wine, not, however, to be drunk on his premises; but it appears likely that the scarcity and consequent high prices will prevent that advantage being taken of the Act which its authors expected and promised for it.
The following extract from a South Australian paper gives a more flattering description of the production in that part of the great continent. It is, however, very evident that the person who has written it, knows very little of the subject he is writing about, or of the capabilities of the wine countries of Europe :
South Australian Wines. It has been known for some time past that large quantities of the wines produced here were being shipped to Victoria, and were taking a high position in the Melbourne market; but, except to a few persons interested in the trade, it was not known that the business had assumed such large dimensions. It had been supposed by many that our produce hitherto has not been much greater than was necessary for our own consumption; and yet it appears from an article in the Argus that by far the largest portion of Australian wines imported by our neighbours comes from this colony. The taste for these wines is growing, and there can be but little doubt that for some time to come there will be a market in Melbourne for as much as we can send them. The writer says :—'In New South Wales they produce so little, or else are so fond of what they have got, that but little finds its way into this market. Not so with South Australia, whose wines come here in large quantities, and are in deserved high favour. Messrs. Ritchie and Farrington, who perhaps stand at the head of the colonial wine trade in Victoria, give an estimate of the relative demand for colonial wines, taking the lowest as 1, as follows:- South Australian. White-Erlana, 4; Verdeilho, 5; Pedro Ximenes, 1; Malvasia, 2; Muscatella, 3; Hock, 1; Riesling, 3. RedHermitage, 6; Richebourg, 3; Constantia, 2. Our best wines are placed much higher by these experienced merchants, and are in larger demand than those of either New South Wales or Victoria, and we hope our winegrowers will do their best to maintain the good character which they have already obtained. So high is the value of colonial wines in Victoria, that unscrupulous persons are actually buying up low-priced and inferior German wines, and, by a kind of doctoring which they know how to perform, are working them up into a semblance of Australian wine. This is a fact much to be regretted, because the character of our pure and nutritious wines will in all probability suffer, if inferior stuff, charged with drugs and fortified with strong spirit, is put into the market and sold as colonial wine.
According to the Argus, South Australian wines realise in Melbourne from 208. to 258. a dozen, in addition to the duty of 38. a gallon which they must pay. This is a fair price, and one which ought to be highly remunerative to the producer. Of course it is the better class of wines which obtain this price. Others, we are told, are often invoiced in the wood at 28. 6d. a gallon without the duty. We question this latter statement. A very small portion, we should think, at this price, ever leaves the colony of
South Australia. It must be wine which, from its inferior quality, is utterly unsaleable here, and which the people in this land would hardly accept as a gift. The humblest harvest wines would bring a better price than this. There can be no doubt that much wretched stuff has been made in South Australia. In the case of many persons, the manufacture has been tentative and experimental, and much good fruit has been converted into bad wine; this is the price which has been paid in acquiring the art of winemaking. It is possible that the results of some of these experiments may have found their way to Melbourne, at 28. 6d. a gallon ; but we think we may very confidently assert that no samples which would be drunk here would be exported at such a price.
The most mischievous restriction to the sale of South Australian wine in the Melbourne market is that which arises from the Customs' duty of 38. a gallon. We hope the Conference may have agreed upon some scheme which will admit colonial productions to all the colonies, free of duty. From the high character which our wines have taken, and which, from the enlarged experience of our vignerons, we have no doubt they will be able to maintain, there is no reason why we should not command the Melbourne market for many years to come.
We have been assured on good authority that certain qualities of South Australian wines would, if supplied regularly and in sufficient quantities, very fairly compete with those of European production. It is something, in drinking wine, to know that it is what it professes to be --the pure juice of the grape; and we believe that, with respect to the great bulk of the wine produced in this colony, this confidence is warranted. It would be a great pity if, for the sake of assimilating them either in strength or taste to the wines of Europe, our wine-makers were to resort to fortifying or doctoring their productions. They have a character of their own by which their value will be tested and determined. It would be as absurd for the