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last updated:    18 October 2004

 

 

 

 

 

11. THE FIRST VINEYARD IN THE DISTRICT

In 1857 as George Love was arriving in the colony, Joseph was planting the first of his grape vines at Bank Head.  Purchasing red and white varieties, imported into Botany Bay, he had established by 1868 a sizeable vineyard on the property’s eastern slopes.  He had built a wine press and cellar and hired a Frenchman to teach him viticulture and wine-making.  My aunt Vera can remember the cellar. “It was built of timber with a timber roof and was completely covered with wattle bark and had a brick floor.  The bark was stripped off the wattle trees in the bush.  The bark was first treated by standing the sheets on end and lighting a fire underneath to dry out the moisture and to prevent it from curling.  Sometimes the bark was laid on a flat surface in the sun with heavy weights on top to keep it form curling.  These flat sheets of bark were put over the roof and walls of the cellar to keep it cool inside.  The cellar had very large oak vats, full of fermenting grapes, in the process of making wine.  A wine press was used to press the wine from the grapes, skins and seeds.  Another cellar was made under the barn.  It had large and smaller barrels and bottles of wine in there where it was cool.  It was a favourite meeting place of my uncles and their families.”

Joseph’s second son, Robert, was to carry on this wine-making tradition collecting prizes in the Diamond Creek and Yarra Glen horticultural shows and ultimately selling wines to Government House.  Phylloxera (or blue mould) would end the 65-year venture in 1922, causing all of the vines to be dug out and burned.

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