Feb 16 2012
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.
The first Western Australian plantings were made at Stanthorpe in 1859 and at Roma in 1863. The introduction of grape phylloxera, Daktulosphaira vitifolii, first reported at Fyansford near Geelong in Victoria in 1875 devastated the industry and necessitated the costly process of replanting the infected areas with vines grafted onto resistant rootstocks. Strict quarantine regulations have restricted the spread of this serious pest and today most of Australia’s vineyards are free of phylloxera. The arrival of the Chaffey brothers from California in 1886 saw the expansion of the irrigated horticultural regions near Mildura in Victoria and Renmark in South Australia. Further irrigated areas were developed in NSW with the settlement of the Murrambidgee Irrigation Area commencing in 1912.
The hotel was later named the Hotel McLaren amid some opposition from the local community. Approximately 4 kilometres to the southeast of McLaren Vale lay a pug cottage on the estate known as Wirra Wirra. This property eventually became the home of Bob Wrigley who by 1895 had planted 124 acres of vines and a few years later opened wine cellars. Nearby, a Wesleyan chapel was opened on 4 June 1854 and was given the name Bethany Chapel. Other pug cottages were established which gave rise to the recognition of Bethany. About 1.5 kilometres to the north of Bethany is the settlement of McLaren Flat. Evelyn Pitfield Shirley Sturt took up a section on 20 November 1839 and held it until 1849. Clinging to the foot of the hills 2 kilometres from McLaren Flat is the hamlet of Beltunga, whose houses were mostly built at the instigation of Richard Bell, founder of Bellevue. To the north of Beltunga lay Seaview, the property that loomed so largely in the lives of the surrounding settlers that gradually its name was adopted for the locality. Originally owned by Mr Luney it passed into the hands of a Mr Ryan, succeeded by Mr Chambers, thence OK Thomas, FR Thiele and finally to Southcorp Wines. Close to Seaview lays the Kay property originally known as Hope Vineyard, named by Mr George Manning when he planted his second vineyard south of Adelaide in 1855. The cuttings for this vineyard were obtained from Reverend Thomas Quinton Stow thus ensuring that the founder of the congregational church in South Australia also unwittingly became a key instigator in the propagation of McLaren Vale’s flourishing vineyards. Another old home in this locality was Amery, which was built by Richard Baker Aldersley. In 1890 the property passed to the ownership of the Kay family. Vines were planted and a cellar built on the same lines as the model exhibited by JG Kelly at the Chamber of Manufacturers Exhibition and utilising natural gravitation. The winery was first used in 1895 when 2000 gallons of wine were made. Thus Bethany, McLaren Flat, Hillside, Beltunga and Seaview completed an encirclement of Bellevue and Gloucester, which starting to lose their separate identities. Halfway between them Thomas Colton built Sylvan Park in 1858. He became resident magistrate and a prominent figure in public affairs forming a link between the two villages. As the names of outlying hamlets fell into similar disuse, the settlements along the main road gradually became known as McLaren Vale, it was forgotten that this had been John McLaren’s name for the whole valley. In the history of South Australia it has often happened that custom has verified the names given to places by early settlers, and so it emerged that ‘McLaren Vale’ became known to the Lands Office as a private town until 1923. In that year Mr CE Pridmore applied for a transfer of the portion of section 156 in the township McLaren Vale. All previous transactions for that locality were designated as in the township of Gloucester in McLaren Vale. From the 1920′s McLaren Vale continued its steady growth with increasing reliance on the wine and brandy industries and exports to the United Kingdom, particularly fortified wines. This trade continued to prosper up until the 1960′s except for the period 1940 – 1945 during World War II. During the 1970′s increased domestic consumption of wine and changing preferences in wine styles cause significant restructuring within the region and such changes have continued into the 1990′s.
ref. www.visitorscentre.com , www.curtisfamilyvineyards.com