Sydney Wine Trail

McLaren Vale, Margaret River, Rutherglen, Great Western, Barossa, Claire and Hunter Valleys are all names which are synonymous with wine making in Australia yet it was in Sydney that the craft of vintneculture in Australia had its origins and is still practiced today. The Wineries of Sydney are Sydney's best kept secret - working wineries less than one hour's drive from the city. The land surrounding Sydney was once a large wine producing region and the Sydney Wine Trail's aim is to restore the wine industry in the Sydney and Greater Sydney Region.

Cogno Brothers Winery
Giovanni and Dino Cogno came out from Italy in the 1950s to work as diesel mechanics on the Snowy Mountains Scheme. In 1964 they moved to Sydney and established their vineyard near the village of Cobbitty a short drive Camden. In 1972 they built their winery to cater principally for their Italian clientele. As local sales have grown, grapes have had to be imported from Mildura to supplement their vineyard's output. While you are in the vicinity, the secluded village of Cobbitty is worth checking out. Of particular interest is the Church of St. Paul's which was consecrated by Bishop Broughton in 1842. The churchyard contains Heber Chapel, built by Thomas Hassall and dedicated by Rev. Samuel Marsden. The chapel is named after Bishop Heber of Calcutta, a hymn writer whose diocese included the whole of New South Wales! Wine types: mainly Italian varieties. UBD Map 303 Ref B 16
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  • Gledswood Homestead and Winery

    Gledswood Homestead and Winery
    An historic homestead and winery, part of which were built with convict labour for a French Nobleman, Gabriel Louis Marie Huon De Kerillion, who was tutor to John Macarthur's sons. The property, then known as Buckingham, was re-named Gledswood in 1816 by its new owner, James Chisholm, who was once baled up by the "wild colonial boy", John Donohue. It was Chisholm who established the vineyard and built a winery and its 20,000-bottle capacity cellar. Today, the vineyard has 28 ha of Traminer grapes under cultivation. Activities include boomerang throwing, sheep shearing, sheepdog mustering, scenic trail rides, craft shop, barbecue and picnic facilities. UBD Map 305 Ref P 9
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    • Vicary's Winery (closed)
      The vineyard in Northern Road, Luddenham, was created in 1914 on what was originally grazing property. It was originally part of a much larger grant made by John Blaxland grandson of Gregory Blaxland and he named the property "Luddenham" after his home village in England. Many of the original buildings on the property included the farm house circa 1860, with the woolshed and Shearers quarters having been built prior to 1890. At this time the property was used principally for cattle and sheep with the wool being shipped to England.

      When Cecil Vicary took over the property in 1916 he converted the woolshed to a dairy and planted the vineyard in 1918. It was tended by German vineyard workers who had come to Australia in the 1860s to work for the Macarthur and Cox families. The first wines were made in 1923 and the winery opened for business. The Winery was located at what would be the end of the main runway of the proposed Badgerys Airport, and was closed in November 2015 to make way for the new airport. As well as wine tasting and sales, Vickery's had a picnic ground, souvenir shop and farm animals and on Friday and Saturday nights a woolshed dance was held. A terraced vineyard was located over the road from Vicary's. UBD Map 243 Ref L 10

      Escholl Park

      Eschol Park
      This was once a major wine growing property which had a 60 ha vineyard and a three-storey winery. Established around 1860 by William Fowler, Eschol Park Wines won a Gold Medal at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. An infestation by the Phylloxera mite destroyed the vineyard in the 1890s. Used during World War II as a home for interned staff of the German Embassy, it now houses a restaurant. The estate has been subdivided for housing, its streets recalling wine and grape varieties. The property is located at 14 Eschol Park Drive, Eschol Park. UBD Map 326 Ref H 3
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      • Richmond Estate Winery
        The Sydney region's youngest winery was established in 1967 on 25 hectares of former grazing land in the Richmond area, commencing with 2.5 ha of grafted vines. The winery, located in Gadds Lane off Kurmond Road, North Richmond, was built around the farmhouse of an old dairy. Open noon - 5.00pm Saturday and Sunday. Wine types: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Malbec. UBD Map 43 Ref P 11
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        • Tizzana Winery

          Tizzana Winery, Ebenezer
          This vineyard in Tizzana Road was established in the 1880s by Italian born Dr Thomas Henry Fiaschi who imported Italian vines and planted them on 22 ha at Sackville Beach on the Hawkesbury River. Dr Fiaschi employed destitute Italian migrants to cultivate his vines with considerable success and named his vineyard after his family home in Italy. In 1917 he established a second vineyard, named Augustine, at Mudgee. Vandals burned down the Tizzana vineyard in 1955. It was re-established in 1980 with 2.3 ha under cultivation. Offering a complete agritourism experience, Tizzana has its own vineyard and olive grove (see Jubilee Vineyard Estate below), and offers the discerning traveller a rewarding mix of locally produced wine, food and luxurious five star bed and breakfast accommodation. Open noon - 6.00pm weekends and public holidays. Other times by appointment. Wine types: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz. UBD Map 28 Ref G 5
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          • Jubilee Vineyard Estate

            Jubilee Vineyard Estate, Ebenezer
            Jubilee Vineyard Estate is part of the original 40 acres of land (portion 112) that was granted to Denis Benjamin Kirwan in 1821. The property became known as "Kirwan's Retreat". Growing maize and wheat, a horse mill was established on the property in 1825 in order to grind flour for Kirwan and other local farmers. The mill was later upgraded and by 1835 Kirwan had imported a steam engine and grind stone for a new mill on his property. Dr Thomas Henry Fiaschi purchased Kirwan s Retreat (which included the original 40 acres) in late 1882 and immediately set about establishing the well known Tizzana Vineyards on the property. Grapes grown on the original 40 acre property included Verdot (Petit Verdot) and Hermitage (Shiraz / Syrah) which were grown in the Stockyard Vineyard, and White Shiraz (Ugni Blanc / Trebbiano / White Hermitage) that were grown in Jubilee Vineyard from which the winery gets its name. Jubilee Vineyard Estate wines are available from its cellar door as well as from selected outlets and restaurants. Cellar door hours: Sat 12 - 5pm, Sun 12 - 5pm. Ph (02) 4579 0740. 519 Tizzana Road, Ebenezer, NSW. After the fire that destroyed the cellars at Tizzana in 1955, the local vineyards were subsequently destroyed by bushfires that ravaged the valley in the early 1960s. Jubilee Vineyard Estate was re-established with vines in 2001. The grape planted was Chambourcin, a French/American hybrid grape variety that is particularly suited to growing in this humid region due to its resistance to fungal diseases. Although its parentage is uncertain, the grape produces a deep purple coloured wine with a full aromatic flavour and long depth.
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            • Belgenny Farm

              Belgenny Farm, Camden
              Located at Camden Park Estate, Elizabeth Macarthur Avenue, Camden, this historic farm is where the Macarthurs bred their famous merino sheep. In 1817, Macarthur returned from exile in England with a collection of vine cuttings obtained from the top vineyards of France, which he planted at Belgenny and Penrith. The Belgenny vineyard was tended by German vinedressers which Macarthur brought out from the Rhine Valley. The winery remained operational for many years. Its ruins remain. The vineyard has been replanted in recent times not far from its original site. It is owned and operated by NSW Dept. of Agriculture. Belgenny Farm is a popular venue for weddings, with the vines making an ideal backdrop for wedding photographs.
              Facilities: working farm, educational and environmental tours, historic displays, function centre, childrens playground, picnic facilities. Entry fees apply. UBD Map 344 Ref F 16
How It All Began

Wine making in Australia began with the First Fleet of settlers who made a 4-week stopover at the Dutch settlement of Capetown at the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa) in 1787 to acquire provisions. Here they purchased a number of varieties of vines which were planted along with fig, orange, pear and apple trees in the Government garden on a site occupied today by the Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney. The Governor's reports on the progress of the colony indicates that these plantings along with a crop of vegetables which included cauliflowers and melons had flourished to such a degree that led Gov. Phillip to make a most remarkable prophecy about vintneculture in Australia, "In a climate so favourable, the cultivation of the vine may doubtless be carried to any degree of perfection, and should no other articles of commerce divert the attention of the settlers from this part, the wines of New South Wales may perhaps, hereafter be sought with civility and become an indispensable part of the luxury of European tables".

The vine at Old Government House, Parramatta

Australia's second vineyard was planted at Parramatta in the grounds of the new Government House. Remnants of that first planting remain today. In the recording of a gift of two bunches of grapes by the Governor to Mrs Macarthur, Captain Watkin Tench noted they were "grapes as fine as I ever tasted ... the bunches were handsome ... well filled out and the flavour high and delicious." In December 1791 Tench recorded that a further 8,000 vines were under cultivation at Parramatta, presumably part of the same planting, and that the farm of German born Philip Schaeffer which he named The Vineyard included 900 vines successfully under cultivation. It would appear that of all the crops planted, few did better than Schaeffer's vines which were Australia's first privately owned vineyard.

In 1803 another vineyard, the last to be established by the Government, was planted in what was then known as the Castle Hill area. Two French prisoners of war were brought out from England to oversee the project. It enjoyed limited success, however the memory of its existence lives on in the name of the locality of Vineyard which recalls the project and identifies its location.

By the 1850s, a number of commercial and private vineyards had been planted throughout the Sydney basin. These included operations at the Gladesville Lunatic asylum, Vaucluse, Lovett Bay (Pittwater), Hunters Hill, Mona Vale, Windsor and Mosman though the majority were located to the west of Sydney within a triangle bounded by Penrith, Parramatta and Picton. It is from this area that Sydney's and eventually Australia's wine industry grew and it is here that five of Sydney's eight remaining vineyards continue the traditions of grape growing and wine making established by the First Fleeters.

The terraces of Gladsville Mental Asylum's vineyard

Winemaking at Tarban Creek
The Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, on the banks of the Parramatta River at what is now the suburb of Gladesville, opened in 1838. It was the first purpose-built mental asylum in New South Wales. The Asylum took what was then an enlightened approach to addressing mental illness by providing meaningful activities such as gardening and farming for patients. A zoo and a farm were established for this purpose. A large vineyard was planted on terraces overlooking the river in the 1880s. The terraces still exists alongside a flat area of ground where the zoo animals once roamed. The clearing and vineyard terraces, along with other remnants and ruins from buildings long since abandoned can be accessed via a bushland walk along the waterfront from the site of the historic roadworks at the end of Punt Road. These items are marked with explanatory signs.

Australia's First Privately Owned Vineyard
The Rydalmere manufacturing plant of Rheem Australia on Alan Street occupies the site of Australia's first privately owned vineyard. Called The Vineyard, its 900 vines were part of the farm of Phillip Schaeffer, who had come out to the colony on the ill-fated relief ship HMS Guardian which sank off Cape Town in 1789. He arrived a year later aboard the Lady Juliana. Schaeffer had been sent out to NSW as the new Supervisor of Convicts to establish the Toongabbie Convict Farm.

Upon his arrival it was found that the German born Schaeffer couldn't speak sufficient English to be deemed suitable for the task, so he was persuaded to abandon his post and become a free settler. To help him along he was granted 57 ha of land on the northern banks of the Parramatta River near Parramatta. Schaeffer had knowledge of grape growing and was given assistance by the Governor in the planting of vines.

The Vineyard went through a succession of owners and lessors whose names read like a who's who of early colonial Sydney - Captain Waterhouse (the man who first brought Spanish merino sheep to Australia); William Cox; Gregory Blaxland; Hannibal Macarthur; and the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, J.B. Polding. When Polding bought the property in 1851, he converted the mansion Macarthur had built there into the Benedictine Monastery of Subiaco. The convent was eventually demolished in 1961 after Rheem Australia took over the site for the erection of a manufacturing plant. The vineyard and convent are remembered in the names of Vineyard Street and Vineyard and Subiaco Creeks, which flowed through the original property. UBD Map 211 Ref M 3

Minchinbury: Sydney's Most Famous Winery
The Minchinbury Estate, which is now occupied by a residential suburb of the same name, was once a magnificent 2,000 acre estate at Rooty Hill. It Sydney's most successful winery and many names associated with the pioneering days of Australian wine making have been associated with it. The estate's name recalls its first owner, Irish born Captain William Minchin, who sailed for NSW as an ensign of the NSW Corps on the female convict transport Lady Shore, the only convict ship to mutiny.

After being set adrift as a castaway by the mutineers and later reaching Brazil, Minchin made his way back in England where he was promptly reassigned to New South Wales. He was in fact on duty as guard of Government House when William Bligh was arrested in the Rum Rebellion. He took up land in the Rooty Hill area in 1818 which he named Minchinbury. Minchin and his wife established a farm and in a section of it Mrs Minchin grew grapes from cuttings. The farm and vineyard was bought by Dr McKay in the 1860s who planted more vines on the property and built the original winery, establishing wine growing there as a commercial venture. His wines won numerous medals, however he was forced to sell up in 1895 due to the depression.

The purchaser was a wealthy railway contractor, James Angus, who introduced modern wine-making technology to the winery. Angus employed Leo Buring, one of Australia's leading wine makers at the time, to oversee operations and built a large house on the property. In 1912, Frank and Herbert Penfold Hyland of Penfold's Wines purchased the winery from Angus who retired. The winery continued to be expanded until 1962 when soil erosion and exhaustion from continued cropping led to the winding down of the venture. The winery continued operating, using grapes imported from other vineyards until July 1978 when it and cellar operations were transferred to Tempe. <

Minchinbury winery site

The heritage listed winery and cellar complex which had developed and produced Australia's most famous champagnes - Minchinbury and Angus Brut - was destroyed by fire on 13th April 1987. The site was redeveloped as the suburb of Minchinbury; its street names recall the winery and the many pioneers of Australia's contemporary wine industry that were associated with it. Another reminder of the winery can still be seen on Gt Western Highway. It is a genuine Sabre Jet Fighter, erected by the winery in 1955 at the entrance to the estate. Its image was used to market the winery with the slogan: "Don't Crash, Drink Penfolds".

A number of buildings from the original winery escaped demolition when the estate was re-developed. They have been restored to their former glory and are a permanent reminder of the site's place in Australia's agricultural history. Two rows of kalamata olive trees, planted in 1912 at the beginning of the Penfolds era of ownership of Minchinbury Winery Estate, have been preserved and now stand proudly in a reserve parallel to Minchin Drive behind houses near the restored winery buildings. The grove of over 90 trees once lined the entry driveway from Gt. Western Highway to the winery.

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