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by Fred McMillin
for August 11, 2000

 

Winery of the Week

Win with Wyndham


Prologue

It's 1828 and

  • It is now much easier to light kitchen fires and stoves, for in England 26-year-old John Walker has invented the friction match.
  • It is now much easier to learn the meaning of words because Noah Webster has published his first dictionary.
  • Dutchman Conrad van Houton creates the world's first chocolate bar.
  • Arriving from England, George Wyndham receives a Crown land grant in Australia's Hunter Valley called Dalewood.


    The Rest of the Story

    Wyndham Estate Wines

    Hunter Valley Chardonnay grapes.

    He became an ardent vintner. How were those early wines? His daughter-in-law wrote.

    The crushed grapes were put into 600-gallon English oak casks turned on their sides, in a stone winery (build by English prisoners). The casks were turned on their sides with the bunghole on top. The wine would bubble out during fermentation; "The method was rather primitive but oh, the wine was strong and delicious."

    George and wife Margaret were blessed with two daughters and twelve sons, who carried on Wyndham winemaking for many years. Andre Simon tells us the Dalewood vines (also planted by prisoners) survived even longer, producing until 1952!

    Now, let's go on to the second giant of Wyndham wines.


    Another Titan of the Trellises

    From 1970 to 1990, the revived Wyndham Estate enjoyed a 2O-year-growth "engineered by the unquestioned genius of Brian McGuigan...the McGuigan family made the Dalewood vineyard the starting point of what became the Wyndham juggernaut." (critic James Halliday)

    The original Wyndham winery had ended in 1870. A century later (1971) a winemaker named Perc McGuigan bought Dalewood, and soon turned it over to son Brian, who did everything from driving one of the trucks during night harvesting to creating a large overseas demand for Wyndham wines.

    Today they are on the market for only $10. Start with the Chardonnay and/or the Shiraz, and then move into some of the newer products, like the Pinot Noir.


    Just the Facts

    Wyndham Estate Wines
    Dalwood Road, Dalwood, Southwest Australia
    Importer—Austin Nichols & Co.
    Contact—Paul Orefice, (973)857-6606, FAX (973)857-6193
    Vineyard Locations—In the Hunter Valley, 100 miles north of Sydney. Long ago, the name of the Wyndham wines was "Syndney."
    Price—$10 range


    Postscript

    We must add one sour note. George Wyndham's first vintage was 1835. One taste and George wrote in his diary, "Will make good vinegar!"

     
    About the Writer

    Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

     
     


    This page created August 2000

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