||Technology in Australia 1788-1988
Table of Contents
I Technology Transported; 1788-1840
II Technology Established; 1840-1940
i Meat Preserving: Heat Processing Introduced
ii Horticultural Products: Heat, Sugar and Solar Drying
iii Refrigeration and the Export of Meat
iv Milling and Baking
v Dairy Products
vii Sugar: Supplying an Ingredient
III The Coming Of Science
IV From Science To Technology: The Post-war Years
V Products And Processes
There is possibly no segment of the vertically integrated agricultural/food production industries more difficult to separate at the 'farm gate' than grape growing and wine production. Indeed, this is recognized in the term 'wine growing'. All the art encompassed in marrying grape variety to location, climate and cultural parameters contributes largely to the characteristics of the wine which could, nevertheless, be ruined by poor practice in the winery. Those who work in the industry and those who write about it are therefore concerned in general with the total industry. James Busby was, as already noted, and so was James King.
King recognized the place of science and corresponded with Justus von Liebig the German chemist. He was in the Hunter Valley from 1827 and planted his first vines in 1832. He won a medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1855 and in 1857 published in Edinburgh a little book, Australia may be an extensive wine-producing country.
Possibly the most influential local writer on the subject was Dr. A. C. Kelly, an Edinburgh medical graduate who arrived in South Australia in 1840 and almost at once planted a vineyard. In 1861, he published The Vine in Australia: Its Culture and Management, and in 1867, Wine-growing in Australia. Together they covered the industry from growing the vine to making the wine and showed Kelly to be a sound technologist who paid attention to such science as was then available to him. Indeed, he berated the industry for lack of scientific method.
Another who placed great store on science and who knew a great deal about wine was already well established in Melbourne. He was the Rev. Dr. J. 1. Bleasdale and he never owned a vineyard, though his friend, Frank Potts, later named one after him. Bleasdale was an English Roman Catholic priest who had been trained in the English College at Lisbon and had simultaneously acquired a good working knowledge of the science of the day and an intimate knowledge of viticulture and what is now called oenology. He arrived in Victoria on 31 March 185 1, and was at once sent to Geelong.
Within weeks of his arrival, Bleasdale visited the vineyards of the Barrabool Hills and took samples, but the demands of the gold fields cut wine output by inflating the prices obtainable for fruit and Victorian wine production began to revive only in 1858-9. In New South Wales wine production had already slowed down but in South Australia it had expanded rapidly under the favourable soil and climatic conditions of the Adelaide plain and hills and by 1866, Bleasdale believed that colony to be one of the wine producing countries of the world.
Quite probably, Bleasdale was, as he claimed to be, the only wine chemist in Australia at the time and for some fifteen years from 1861 he was prominent in judging Australian wines, in analysing them, and in promoting them. He detailed the characteristics of wines as then understood and in his papers and lectures discussed the influence of aspects of Australian practices on some of them. He emphasized the effects of soils, climate, and aspect, the performance of known varieties and the need for acclimatization. He attempted to explain the 'earthiness' of Australian wines as an aberration of make procedures.
Grapes from the warmer areas were well endowed with sugars and nitrogenous materials and in the prevailing climate fermentations would proceed until either the sugar or the nitrogen was exhausted. The result was dry or sweet wines, respectively, and very little bouquet. In the days before refrigeration to control the rate of fermentation, activity was stopped at any desired point by the addition of alcohol as 30-40 per cent proof brandy. Bleasdale discussed this and other aspects of brandy addition. His lecture in Adelaide on 12 December 1867, on 'Pure Native Wine Considered as an Article of Food and Luxury' contained much sound practical advice on density, temperature, sulphuring, fining, and cleanliness; but he noted that a lot of work remained to be done on blending before the results could be regarded as satisfactory.
People in Bright Sparcs - Bleasdale, Dr J. I; Busby, James; Kelly, Dr A. C.; King, James; Potts, Frank
© 1988 Print Edition pages 106 - 107, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher