Podcasts – Terroir Congress 2020

All about “Australian grapevine stories”

Trailer: Australian grapevine stories

Narrator Andrew Caillard MW explores the wonderful and surprising story of grape vines in Australia. It starts with the ambitions of Georgian England and takes the listener on a four-part journey through the Victorian age, Federation and contemporary times. This easy listening, unstuffy and well-researched four-part series was recorded especially for the 13th Terroir Congress.

This trailer introduces the podcasts and acknowledges the key people behind the project.

Part 1: 1788 to 1820s – A race to the other side of the world

Ambitions for a wine industry in New South Wales were caught up in the British Government’s aspirations of expanding trade routes and wealth creation. From 1788 to the 1820s, colonial wine was a cottage industry but the pioneers from Sir Joseph Banks in London to John Macarthur and nurseryman Thomas Shepherd in Sydney believed that Australia could become the France of the Southern Hemisphere. But the first years of settlement were not without political troubles and serious economic challenges. 

Part 2: 1820s to 1855 – Convictions and transportation

There were many new importations of vitis vinifera during the 1820s to 1855. The most famous was the remarkable collection of grape vines imported into New South Wales by James Busby in 1832. William Macarthur of Camden Nurseries becomes a highly influential figure supplying many of Australia’s earliest pioneers with vine stock material for planting in the Australian colonies. This was also the dawn of the steam age, the beginning of the gold rush (1851) and the Universal Exhibition in Paris (1855).

Part 3: 1855 to 1960s – Grand dreams and boom-bust-boom

 Fortunes were mixed after the great promise of the 1860s and early 1870s. Many of Australia’s greatest 19th Century vineyards were planted during this time. Economic, social and agricultural challenges hampered progress. The arrival of Phylloxera in Victoria in 1875 was met with a scorched earth policy. But South Australia’s quarantine laws protected the vast plantings of grape vines especially around Adelaide, McLaren Vale, Barossa and the Clare Valleys. Australian Burgundy boomed in the 1880s and 1890s. After the Second World War plant breeding programmes were introduced to improve colonial vinestock material, while only a trickle of new clones and selections were permitted into Australia.

Part 4: 1970s to Today – A step back into the future

The golden period of modern wine was enabled by the dreams and hard work of past generations. While 19th Century vinestock reflects the romance and dramas of the Georgian Victorian ages, new material is required to build on those extraordinary efforts. The pursuit for ideal chardonnay clones led to the arrival of 19th Century Californian vinestock material into Australia. In the meantime, alternative varieties might not be that alternative given their history in Australia. Australia’s colonial vinestock heritage is one of the four corner stones of our modern wine industry. 

© graphical sources: Part 3: Henschke Wines – Dragan Radocaj, Part 4: Leeuwin Estate, Margaret River

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