The Yarra Valley – History and wine

By Philip Arlidge - Wine Expert

Yarra Valley. Wine. History. Australian. Wineries.

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Tags: Yarra Valley. Wine. History. Australian. Wineries.


The Yarra Valley was one of the first areas in Australia to be cultivated for wine production in 1838 and the first in Victoria. The Ryrie Brothers took up a grazing license of 43,000 acres and planted two varietals, The Black Cluster of Hamburg and Sweetwater. In 1850 the property was acquired by Swiss-born Paul de Castella and the property was developed into a major wine centre for the region.

In 1861 the vineyard won The Argus Gold Cup for the best vineyard in Victoria and in 1863 Hubert de Castella established St. Huberts Winery and Guillame de Pury founded Yerinberg two wineries that are recognised today for producing outstanding wines. In 1889 Yering Station won the Grand Prix at The Exposition Universelle, the only time a winery in the southern hemisphere has ever done so.

However, things were going to take a downturn by the turn of the century when a combination of the grapevine root disease phylloxera and changing drinking habits impacted on the region and by 1937 there were no vineyards in the region just dairy farming. Phylloxera is a bug that attacks the roots of the vines and devastated the French wine industry in the 1800’s only being rescued by phylloxera-resistant rootstock brought from The Americas, which is why there are some areas of South Australia that claim to have the oldest Shiraz vines in the world despite the Australian wine industry is fairly young compared to Europe.

In 1936 Reg Egan founded Wantirna Estate and the wine industry once again started up in The Yarra Valley with plantings such as Crouchon, Pedro Ximinez and Dolcetto, varieties largely unknown in Australia at this time. In 1969 a botanist called Dr Bailey Carrodus planted 12 hectares at the foot of The Warramate Hills naming his vineyard Yarra Yering and this rekindled the area as a serious wine-growing region. Dr. Baily Carrodus already had a degree in horticulture and attended The Roseworthy Agricultural College in South Australia to gain a second degree in winemaking.

Although Roseworthy is no longer involved in teaching winemaking, this had moved to Adelaide, the main hall there carries many famous Australian winemaker’s names around the ceiling reminding us of the importance of this college. Legend has it that for the next few years his students in the botany department made many field trips into The Yarra valley studying the flora, topography and soils as he looked for the perfect site to establish his vineyard and plantings started in 1969, the varieties being based on his desire to copy the French regions of Bordeaux, The Rhone Valley and Burgundy an influence that remains to this day long after he has gone.

Yarra Valley. Wine. History. Australian. Wineries.

The wines of Yarra Yering are elegant, complex and powerful with the ability to cellar for many years and are simply labelled Dry Red No. 1 a Bordeaux blend, Dry Red No 2 a Northern Rhone blend, The Dry White No. 1 a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir and a Merlot. In August 2016 the current winemaker, Sarah Crowe, was awarded one of the industry’s highest honours being named by James Halliday at The Qantas epiQure Halliday Wine Companion Awards and she will continue the tradition that Dr Bailey Carrodus started in 1969 with the first plantings at Yarra Yering.

Sarah joined the team in 2013 as winemaker having spent a number of years judging at wine shows expanding her palate and knowledge of industry trends, she also spent some time at Brokenwood in the Hunter valley where she initially worked in the vineyard, her philosophy is “drink less, but drink better” Yarra Yering wines can be found at most premium liquor outlets including Dan Murphy’s, or online at the winery, a worthy investment to those who are looking for wines made traditionally and a style that will last for many years.

Other notable wineries from the region include Balgownie Estate, Coldsteam Hills, De Bortoli, Domain Chandon, Giant Steps, Oakridge, Rochford, St. Huberts, Yering Station and Yerinberg, if you are visiting Victoria make sure to visit this area which is about 1 hour north of Melbourne where many of the vineyards also have first-class restaurants.

Perhaps Naz and Shamim can put together this hangover cure at their Woorim Chemist shop if golf doesn’t get in the way. It is from The London Mirror newspaper of 1824. Take one teaspoon of the tincture on Colomba, one teaspoon of the tincture of cascarilla, one teaspoon of the compound tincture of gentian, a wine glass full of the infusion of quassia, and twenty drops of elixir of vitriol; mix and take twice or thrice a day, and have a jug of cold water dashed over the head every morning on coming out of bed, and the feet bathed in warm water every night. Continue this for six or eight weeks. Dr Roth of Swinmunde has succeeded with this remedy in completely curing many poor creatures, both men and women, who were actually killing themselves by continually tippling and drunkenness. Let us hope it may be equally successful in this country (or on Bribie)

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A highly successful sales and leadership career working in a number of different and very competitive industries. Engaging with decision makers at all levels in business and government. Three decades employed by corporations, SME businesses in senior roles and almost twelve years operating as a freelance contractor has equipped me well for all aspects of business. Whether leading and mentoring sales teams, or in a direct sales role I enjoy the challenge to meet and exceed expectations. Making a real and tangible difference in either a team environment or as an individual is an important personal goal I have consistently achieved throughout my career. In all of my business and personal dealings over the years there is one issue that stands out above all others - communication. Excellent communication skills creates trust, helps with mutually beneficial outcomes and above all cements long lasting positive relationships. I strive everyday to communicate effectively with the people I encounter.