John Wyndham on Dalwood for the Bordeaux Wine Exhibition (1882)

Bordeaux Wine Exhibition 1882


Questions to be answered by Exhibitor

Exhibitors were required to answer a series of questions about their vineyard’s original vegetation, soils, site, age of vines, vine varieties, wines produced, production costs, prices, awards and vineyard history.

John Wyndham’s answers provide a rare, incredibly detailed, valuable, and hitherto unrevealed insight into the origin, development, and operation of the most successful vineyard in Colonial New South Wales, Dalwood Vineyard, Branxton.

When the entries referred to in this Questionnaire were submitted for judging in Bordeaux by the Jury of French wine-judges, “the name of John Wyndham was ordered to be placed first (1st) among all wine exhibitors from the Australian Colonies.”

The document was donated to the State Library of New South Wales by the Dalwood Restoration Association, where it joins a substantial collection of documents about the Wyndham family and the Dalwood Vineyards. Vines were first planted at Dalwood on 1st September 1830 by George Wyndham and his convict employees. It is now the oldest commercial vineyard in Australia.

The following transcription of the very fragile document, by Don Seton Wilkinson, John Wyndham’s great-great-grandson, shows what a ‘goldmine’ it is of valuable information.

Questions to be answered by Exhibitor.
 1. Name of Exhibitor … John Wyndham
 2. Residence … Dalwood, near Branxton, New South Wales
 3. Name of Vineyard … “Dalwood”
 4. Character of soil to be fully particularized where known … Rich Red Sandy loam, with a sub soil of Iron Stone gravel, intermixed with small globules of lime, underlying which is a fine red marly clay of great depth & below this, more red sand and gravel.
 5. Situation of Vineyard, on hill or flat ground, or other particulars as to site … Elevated plateau, with ample undulations to ensure good drainage – was originally Forest land covered with Australian Appletree, Iron Bark, & Honeysuckle trees – &the ground covered with ferns and rich grass.
6. Number of acres under cultivation … Seventy (70 acres)
7. Varieties of vines cultivated describing each variety numbering from 1 onwards, as 2, 3, and so on … Red Varieties { Hermitage 1 (Various varities held of Hermitage, Busby’s Collection) 2 Verdôt 3 Pineau Noir, a Burgundy – 4 Black Spanish – 5 Malbec – 6 …- are from two being in largest proportions.

White Varieties { 7 Pineau Blanc or “White Pineau” – 8 Madeira – 9 Reisling – 10 Shiraz – the White Pineau being the most extensive & in largest quantity and 11 Pedro Ximenes

8. Age of Plantation … 12 acres were planted in 1854 – 1869 – 24 acres more in 1858 – remainder in 1872 – 1873 – from cuttings taken from the old Dalwood plantation established by George Wyndham in 1830-1832 chiefly from Busby’s Collection of 1825.
9. Total quantity of Wine produced from Vineyard … Six hundred & forty eight thousand (648,000) gallons – in the (10) ten years ending 1877. The average acreage in full bearing was thirty five (35) acres, and the yield of wine  …. from 280,287 gallons – over 800 gallons to the acre – this must be consider-ed the average crop barring accidents – in the past 5 years ending 1882 – the crop has been repeatedly eaten off by Caterpillars &c, generally after the fruit has “set”
10. Cost of cultivation per acre … The vineyard is cultivated by (3) three contractors each receiving ₤7 per acre for ordinary cultivation vine dressing &c – but this does not nearly represent the whole expense, which in the gross, amounts to about ₤1500 to ₤1600 per ann – over ₤20 per acre. The contractors each have large families, & their children are paid extra – the average number of hands employed during the year being about 45 souls.
11. Price, and year of vintage, of each variety of Wine exhibited, per gallon …

Note. The rates named are those of the present vintage. The Growers prices for these wines when new were from 1/6 to 2/6 per gallon, the bulk being 1/8 to 2/- per gallon. JW

Red wines. Samples – A.Hermitage 1876 – 8/- per gallon – B.Hermitage 1877 – 8/- per gallon. C. Hermitage 1879 – 4/6 – CC. Hermitage 1879 -4/6 per gallon D. Hermitage 1881 – (not yet fixed) – E. Verdot 1876 (full) 5/6 per gal – F. Verdot 1876 lighter 4/6 per gal – G. Verdot 1879 – 3/- per gallon. H. Verdot 1880. 3/- per gallon. I. Verdot 1881 (not yet fixed) – J. Pineau Noir 1879. 6/6 per gallon – K. Pineau Noir 1878 – 5/6 per gal. L. Pineau Noir 1879. 4/6 – LL. Pineau Noir 1880. 3/6 per gal. O. Pineau Noir 1879. 6/6 per gal – Pineau Blanc 1879 6/6 per gal. White Wines. Samples – M. Pineau Blanc 1877 (full) 8/- per gallon. N. Pineau Blanc 1877 (lighter) 6/6 per gal. O. Pineau Blanc 1879. 6/6 per gal. P. Pineau Blanc 1879 – 4/5 per gal. Q. Madeira 1876 8/- per gallon – R. Madeira 1877 8/- per gallon – S. Madeira 1879. 5/6 per gallon. T. Madeira 1881 (price not yet fixed.) – U. Reisling 1879 – 5/6 per gallon – V. Reisling 1879 (full) 6/6 per gallon – Reisling VV. (light) 4/6 per gallon. W. Pedro Ximenes & Shiraz 1877 – 4/6 per gal. X. Pineau Blanc & Shiraz 1879 – 4/6 per gallon. Y. Pedro Ximenes & shiraz 1879 – 4/6 per gal.
12. Awards previously obtained by Exhibitor … Considerably over (100) one hundred prizes, including gold & silver medals, numbers of silver cups, Bronze medals &c &c – too numerous to particularize in this space – always awarded a leading position at every exhibition of note when exhibited – Generally the premier position – have exhibited only once in France, when in 1867 obtained Silver Medal at Paris – the premier position among all Australian growers at that Exhibition – and after an absence of seven years from all Exhibitions, since 1872 – again obtained a leading position among all the growers of the world exhibiting at Sydney International Exhibition 1879-1880.
13. The owners of Vineyards in which any special circumstances of progress or success in viniculture have occurred, may here state the same so as to afford particulars for the competition for awards in recognition of special progress … Specialties (1) The Espallier system of training vines was first generally adopted and brought to perfection in the Dalwood Vineyards – first as far back as 1835, by the original proprietor (George Wyndham Snr) & now by the present proprietor since 1857 – (2) … … crops of wine of high quality preserved in the oldest vines – viz those planted in 1854, many of them as thick in the stem as a man’s leg & now 28 years old, have continually yielded up to the present year (when the crop has not been destroyed by insects eating the fruit buds &c) from one (1) gallon to one & a half (1½) gallons of fine rich must (or grape juice) to each vine – the average often being 1200 gallons to the acre or 1 gallon to each vine plant. (4) The Dalwood system of Summer pruning which helps preserve the vine plants in vigorous growth & health – as against the ordinary French & German systems of too severe cutting back of the summer shoots, thereby rendering the vine plants a prey to disease.
SPECIAL NOTE – No Exhibitor will be permitted to show other than the product of his own Vineyard.

Dalwood Branxton
N. S. Wales Mar 1882

John Wyndham
Grower & Exhibitor

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