The Vintage Journal - McLaren Vale Guide 2022

By the 1850s, sailing ships and steamers regularly ploughed the southern Australian coastline, moving people, livestock, agricultural goods, and other wares. Vinestock material was traded across borders. Nurseries in Adelaide and early vignerons supplied cuttings for landholders and farmers. In July 1859, a large consignment of vine stock was sold at auction in McLaren Vale at Yankalilla and Willunga – which only comprised about 23 acres of vineyard at the time. This region rapidly expanded with an increase in plantings. In South Australia, most of the vineyard plantings at this time were centred around Adelaide at Mitcham (149 acres), Payneham (155 ½ acres), and West Torrens (71 ½ acres). Also farther afield in the hills (Clarendon 78 ½ acres), Morphett Vale (90 acres), Noarlunga (26 ¾ acres), and Onkaparinga (49 acres). McLaren Vale was still primarily grazing, wheat, and barley country. Vigneron Thomas Hardy, who worked with John Reynell at Reynella for a year or so from 1850, bought land at Bankside near Adelaide in 1853, planted just under an acre of Shiraz vines in 1854 and made his first wine in 1857. He exported his first two hogsheads of wine to England in 1859. By 1862 his winery was making 1500 gallons of wine, and by 1865, within three years, he had expanded production almost ten-fold to 14000 gallons. Over half of the grapes were sourced from growers in McLaren Vale, highlighting the rapid development of vineyards in the area. In 1862 Dr Alexander Charles Kelly established the Tintara Vineyard Company with the backing of brothers Sir Thomas and Alexander Elder, Sir Samuel Davenport, Robert Barr Smith and Sir Edward Stirling, all significant business figures in Adelaide. The original property had been called Tintinara, and over the following years, 213 acres of heavy timber country was cleared and a vineyard planted. Kelly’s gravity flow Upper Tintara Cellars became a model for winery design in McLaren Vale and beyond, including the 1894 Wirra Wirra and 1895 Kay Brothers wineries. According to Dr AC Kelly most of the wines produced in the 1860s and 1870s were based on early-picked fruit rather than more fully ripe grapes, because most winemakers believed that “there is less risk of excessively hot weather than at an earlier period.” This translated to higher yields and “more favourable circumstances for conducting fermentation”.


The Vintage Journal – Regional Focus

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