Australia’s First Chardonnay

Australia’s First Chardonnay

James BusbyOf historic importance to the Australian wine industry is the import of the Chardonnay grape from France and how this grape made its way to the Craigmoor Winery in Mudgee.

1832 – Chardonnay grape varietals were first imported into Australia by James Busby. Plants were divided between Sydney Botanical Gardens and Busby’s estate “Kirkton” in the Hunter Valley.

1857 – Adam Roth, a free settler, arrived in Sydney.

1858 – Adam Roth was given a grant of 37 hectares of land in Mudgee, NSW. Craigmoor Winery was established.

1887 – J. McLean established Kaluna Vineyard (near Fairfield in Sydney) and this was managed by Ambrose Laraghy who had worked at Kirkton Vineyard.

1918 – Ambrose’s son Arthur purchased Kaluna and traveled to Mudgee to purchase grapes in order to make fortified wines. He gave Chardonnay cuttings from Kaluna to Bill Roth (son) which were planted at Craigmoor Vineyards. These cuttings came from Busby’s original collection at Kirkton and it is suggested that Kaluna was the only Chardonnay source left at this time.

1930 – Jack Roth (son) had bought out his brother and consolidated winemaking at Craigmoor Winery.

1969 – At this time a nameless grape variety was identified by Professor Denis Boubals, an ampelographer from Montpellier (France,) as Chardonnay, one of the best disease-free clones he had seen. In this way, Mudgee became the first wine-growing area in Australia to grow Chardonnay.

1970 – Pieter van Gent came to Mudgee in December to take up the position of Winemaker /Manager for Craigmoor Wines

. Pieter van Gent: “I officially started my job as Winemaker /Manager on Christmas Eve, when the new owners purchased Craigmoor, but I worked for 2 weeks while Craigmoor was still owned by the Roth family.”

1971- Pieter van Gent: “I was told to forget about making white wine in Mudgee and stick to the reds. I made Chardonnay in 1971, but there was only one hogshead which was not enough to bottle. Dr. Ray Healey and I were both aware that this was the first time the Chardonnay grape was made into a wine in Australia.”

1972 – Craigmoor marketed straight Chardonnay under the Chardonnay label.

 Pieter van Gent: “I have written before that Tyrell’s may have had Chardonnay in 1972 at the same time as Craigmoor, but it was labeled as Pinot Blanc, not Chardonnay.” Pieter remained at Craigmoor Winery until 1979 and firmly established Craigmoor as one of the leading wineries in Australia and contributed immeasureably to the establishment of Mudgee as an important wine region.

 

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Pieter van Gent Winery & Vineyard
141 Black Springs Road
Mudgee NSW 2850

Phone: 02 6373 3030
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