The story of the establishment of viticulture in the Goulburn Valley has all the ingredients for a television epic: high-stakes gambling, initial failure, glory and premature death quickly followed by overnight success. The success was that of a syndicate headed by R. H. Horne and John Pinney Bear, which in 1860 raised 25 000 pounds sterling ($50 000) for the purpose of forming the company to be entitled ‘The Tahbilk Vineyard Proprietary’.
Within two years 80 hectares had been planted with 700000 vines, and by the end of the decade 90 metre-long ‘old’ cellars had been constructed, followed by the ‘new’ cellars in 1875. By this time Tahbilk was producing the equivalent of 70 000 cases of wine a year, and even though production declined somewhat in the ensuing years to around 35 000 cases, a thriving trade with England was quickly established.
Phylloxera spelt the end for the other smaller vineyards and wineries in the district, and when the Purbrick family purchased Chateau Tahbilk in 1925, it was the only operating winery. Indeed, the only other significant winery (in commercial terms) to be established in the Goulburn Valley has been Mitchelton (in 1969), and even it had a prolonged struggle before becoming successful.
These two wineries more than compensate for the lack of numbers: the National Trust-classified Tahbilk retains more of its nineteenth-century atmosphere than any other winery in Australia. New buildings have been added with the utmost care and sensitivity, and are barely noticed.
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|Growing Season Rainfall||
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Early March to early May