The survey of the ‘rich and extensive valley of McLaren Vale’ was completed three years after proclamation, in 1839 by John McLaren. McLaren was appointed as Senior Surveyor was given the task of surveying the southern districts of Adelaide. McLaren divided up the south of Adelaide into three districts – B, C and D. B reached from Holdfast Bay and extended south as far as the Onkaparinga River, it was opened to the public in February 1839. Section C was to include all the land south of the Onkaparinga River to Willunga Hill. Section D included land from Willunga to Encounter Bay.
Wine from this vineyard was sent to London in 1822, where it was awarded a silver medal. A subsequent parcel of wine was awarded a gold medal in 1827. John Macarthur planted a vineyard at Camden Park in 1820 and by 1827 produced a vintage of 90,000 litres. Interest in viticulture in the colony increased rapidly and in 1831 James Busby travelled through Spain and France collecting cuttings of grape cuttings for the colony. He was recorded as having collected 433 varieties from the Botanic Gardens in Montpellier, 110 from the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, 44 from Sion House near Kew Gardens in England and 91 from other parts of Spain and France. At this time, varieties were not well characterised and it seems certain that some were repeated in this introduction under more than one name, perhaps many more – the same name may also have been used for more than one variety, It is clear from the catalogue of the collection put out by the Sydney Botanical Gardens in 1842 that some of the varieties may also have been confused, for example Semillon is described as a black grape and Malbec as a white. Unfortunately, this collection was removed in 1857 – but not before cuttings has been distributed to Camden, the Hunter Valley and the Adelaide Botanical gardens from where they spread throughout Australia.
While the original collection and those established from it have been lost, more of the varieties have survived in Australia than is generally realised. From the localities in which they have been subsequently found, it seems very likely that there are vines of varieties such as Crouchen, Chenin Blanc and Ondenc, as well as better known varieties such as Semillon, Riesling, Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon which can be traced back to Busby (even though the major plantings of some of these varieties may have come from other sources). Among the minor varieties, the discovery of surviving vines of Bourboulenc, Piquepoul Noir, Tocai Friulano and Troyen was of great interest. Other varieties since found and identified were Fer, Gamay, Gueche and Pougnet, and about 20 more varieties have been distinguished but not yet identified. There are also varieties from older collections with obviously local names which remain to be identified. Vineyards rapidly spread to the rest of the Australian colonies – vineyards were planted in the Yarra Valley in Victoria in 1830 and Adelaide in 1837. The first vineyard in the Barossa Valley in South Australia was planted by Johann Gramp at Jacob’s Creek in 1847.
Records show that the Curtis Family name first appeared in Cervaro in 1471, a town established by the Latinium tribe in Central Italy around the Second Century AD. Cervaro is situated approximately 10klms south of the monastery town of Monte Cassino, the site of some of the bitterest fighting between the Allied and German forces in Italy during World war II. Winemaking – Red grapes are harvested at optimum flavour levels, after testing and monitoring of the maturity development, in the cool of the day and then destemmer crushed into fermentation tanks.
These three regions now produce approximately 75% of Australia’s winegrapes. These regions initially included major plantings of the classic table wine varieties, but in the early 1900s these were almost all replaced by fortified vine varieties to supply the United Kingdom market. This situation continued until the 1950s when an increasingly multicultural Australian population began demanding high quality table wines and the varietal mix again swung in favour of the classic wine varieties such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Australia was fortunate in having large areas of Shiraz, originally planted for port wine styles, which, in the warm Australian climate, has proved to be ideally suited for the production of full-bodied red wine styles.
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