Australian agricultural and rural life

Wyndhams

George Wyndham - winemaker

George Wyndham (1801-1870) arrived in New South Wales from England with his wife Margaret in 1827 and settled at Branxton in the Hunter Valley region. On his property, ‘Dalwood’, Wyndham raised cattle, horses, sheep and experimented with a variety of crops including maize, wheat, tobacco, fruit and vines, systematically trialling over 70 different varieties of grapes alone. Through a process of trial and error, he selected the best growing grapes for the local area and conditions, becoming a pioneer of the wine industry in Australia.

John Wyndham, before June 1869 / photographer William Bradley

He was later joined by his son John Wyndham who eventually took over management of the property and oversaw the growth of Dalwood vineyards into one of Australia's leading wine producers. By the late 1880s, the Hunter region of NSW was becoming a centre for wine production in Australia. Dalwood wines were internationally acclaimed, receiving awards at local and international exhibitions, including the Paris International Exhibition of 1867. At the height of Dalwood's success in 1886, a number of promotional photographs of the vineyard were produced and presented to various local dignitaries, as well as Queen Victoria herself.

Dalwood vineyards, 1886

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An early diary kept by George Wyndham recorded his daily life and work at Dalwood during 1830-1840. His diary gives a vivid insight into life on the land for pioneer farmers and, more generally, early wine-making techniques in colonial Australia. Wyndham describes planting and tending his crops, weather conditions, the building and maintenance of his property, and relationships with family, workers and local Aborigines. Personal family milestones such as the birth of his son, (Feb.3. Boy born at 5 p.m. Francis), sit alongside day to day farming activities.

 

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Sponsors

This story has been developed with the support of the State Library of NSW Foundation.

We would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation.

Supported by Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation