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Historical Timeline

Wine and Grape History in the Sydney Region

The history of the Australian wine industry had its beginnings with the arrival of the first fleet into Sydney Cove.

The first vines arrived in Australia in 1788 with Captain Phillip on board one of the ships of the First Fleet. These vines were first planted out at Farm Cove - the site of the present Sydney Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, the vines did not bear as expected, and were soon transplanted to a new location at Parramatta. In 1791, Governor Phillip reported that he had established a three-acre vineyard at Parramatta, and that a settler named Schaffer had also planted one acre of vines.

In following years, many others attempted to establish wine grape growing and winemaking ventures in various regions of the colony.

Notable amongst these were the pioneering efforts of Captain John Macarthur, to whom a grant of land some thirty miles from Sydney was made, and which he named Camden Park. This property played a major part in the development of all manner of primary industries in Australia, being particularly well known as the home of the development of the merino sheep breed. Camden Park played a vital roll in the fledgling wine industry through its importation and distribution of vine cuttings throughout NSW and the Barossa Valley. By 1853, Camden Park listed some 33 grape varieties for sale.

Another important figure in the early wine industry was Gregory Blaxland. Blaxland established a vineyard at Ermington on the Parramatta River in 1806 and by 1822 shipped 136 litres of wine to London where it won the Silver Medal of the Society for Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, now known as the Royal Society of Arts. Five years later, a larger shipment of 1800 litres of Blaxland's wine won the Gold Ceres Medal.

Early vineyard data compiled from Colonial Secretary returns showed in 1843, some 183.6 acres of grapes being grown in the Sydney Basin, producing 12,315 gals of wine and 497 gal brandy. Statistical data in the table below shows how the area under vines expanded in Sydney and continued to expand throughout the state.

Table 1: Development of grapes grown (acres) in early New South Wales 1845-1886







Total Sydney












Other NSW






Total NSW






Many important families were involved in the development of the Sydney wine scene, especially in the fertile agricultural lands that followed the Nepean and Hawkesbury river system. Many of these early vineyards are outlined in the time chart below.
Once the 1870's had been reached, the technology of winemaking and viticulture began to be better understood and the industry was primed to develop to another level. One individual, Dr Thomas Fiaschi, who pioneered the introduction of Listerian surgery in Australia at the Hawkesbury District Hospital (Windsor) also made a pioneering contribution to the wine industry through his experimental use of new grape varieties, use of aseptic conditions in a modern winery and new trellising techniques. Fiaschi was elected president of the NSW winegrowers Association for some 25 years.

By 1895, James Angus had begun to introduce modern wine making techniques at Minchinbury and released its famous sparkling wines in 1903.

All was not well however in the wine industry and the turn of the century saw the decline of many vineyards in the County of Cumberland (and in many other parts of Australia) due to the Phylloxera louse. Many remnants of early vineyards hung on throughout the 20th century, exploiting the still rich farming lands, but succumbing to the pressure of growth from an ever-growing metropolis.

Recent years however has seen a revival in the planting of vineyards in the Sydney basin offering visitors a unique opportunity to compare Sydney wines to other regions.

1788 February - the first grapes were planted at Sydney Cove from cuttings obtained from Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope.
November - Vines were planted at the 'The Crescent' - Rose Hill, Parramatta.
1791 January - Governor Phillip gives a gift of grapes to Mrs Macarthur.
May - Phillip Schaeffer begins clearing his farm 'The Vineyard' - plants 1 acre of grapes at Rose Hill.
December - On December 3, Captain Tench records in his journal that there are 8,000 vines planted at 'The Crescent'. On December 7, Captain Tench records that Schaeffer has 900 flourishing vines planted.
1793 Colonel George Johnston receives his first grant of land at Petersham which he called 'Annandale Farm'.
1794 John Macarthur plants a small vineyard at Parramatta at his 'Elizabeth Farm'.
1797 Phillip Schaeffer sells 'The Vineyard' to Captain Henry Waterhouse.
1800 January - William Cox purchases 'Brush Farm' at Ermington from John Macarthur.
'The Vineyard' is leased to William Cox after Captain Waterhouse's duties require him to return to England. Cox leases the property until 1803.
1801 7,000 vine cuttings planted at 'The Crescent' to replace the neglected vines previously planted.
George Suttor planted a trail vineyard at his Baulkham Hills 'Suttor Farm' which later became known as 'Chelsea Farm'. The vineyard failed.
1802 5,000 vine cuttings planted at 'The Crescent' bringing the total vines planted to 12,000.
1803 Land cleared and vines planted at Castle Hill, but the plants were affected by blight. Nothing more was done.
1804 Reverend Samuel Marsden is granted land at St Mary's and calls the property 'Mamre'. Marsden establishes a vineyard here from cuttings grown on one of his Parramatta farms. He is also accredited with introducing the Mueller's Burgundy grape variety by James Busby.
1806 Gregory Blaxland purchases 'Brush Farm' at Ermington on the Parramatta River and immediately plants cuttings that he obtained from the Cape of Good Hope on his trip to Australia as an experiment.
Gregory Blaxland leases 'The Vineyard'.
Mary Putland, Governor Bligh's daughter, is granted land at St Mary's and establishes 'Orange Grove' vineyard.
1811 Robert Townson is granted land at minto and calls it 'Varroville'. The property becomes a showpiece and its vineyard is 'second only to Gregory Blaxland'.
1812 May - George Suttor arrives back from England bringing with him more vines.
July - Captain Waterhouse dies and 'The Vineyard' is sold to Hannibal Hawkins Macarthur.
1816 The Royal Society of Arts in London offers a medal for "the finest wine not less than 20 gallons of good marketable quality made from the produce of vineyards in NSW".
Gregory Blaxland determines from his experiments that Black Constantia and Claret are the most suitable varieties. He subsequently plants more vineyard at 'Brush Farm'.
James Chisholm purchases 'Buckingham' and renames it 'Gledswood'. Chisholm extends the homestead and includes a cellar with a capacity of 20,000 bottles.
1817 John, William and James Macarthur return from Europe with a range of vine cuttings and propagate the vines at 'Camden Park'.
1819 Robert Campbell is granted land at Mona Vale on which he develops a vineyard.
Governor Macquarie starts a Government Farm at Emu Plains and plants an experimental vineyard.
Captain William Minchin is granted land west of Rooty Hill and calls it 'Minchinbury'.
1820 The Macarthur's at 'Camden Park' vineyard, enlarge their Camden estate with the first commercial plantings in the area. Varieties grown include Pineau Gris, Frontignac, Gouais, Verdelho, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, Grenache and Mataro. William Macarthur also plants 20 acres of vineyard at Penrith. 
1822 March - A quarter of a pipe of red fortified wine was shipped to England from Gregory Blaxland's 'Brush Farm'. This is Australia's first export of wine.
Land at Parramatta granted to The Parramatta Agricultural and Horticultural Society for the propagation and distribution of fruit trees and grapevines for the colony.
1823 Dr James Bowman's 'Lyndhurst Estate' at Glebe is reported to have extensive vineyards in the estate gardens.
England - Blaxland is awarded a Silver Medal for his wine from The Royal Society of Arts in London.
1824 The first vintage at 'Camden Park'
July - William Redfern to Australia, via Madeira, and receives a further grant at 'Campbellfields' where he introduced the grape variety Verdelho.
14 acres of vineyards are established on the Mulgoa property 'Winbourne' owned by George Cox, son of William Cox.
William Cox's son, Henry Cox, establishes a vineyard on his 'Glenmore' property at Mulgoa.
1825 James Busby wrote the book "A Treatise on the Vine and the Art of Winemaking"
James Busby is placed in charge of the farm and teaches viticulture at the Cabramatta Male Orphan School
1826 Vineyard started on Sir John Jamison's Penrith property 'Regentville'
1828 England - Blaxland is awarded the Gold Ceres Medal for his wine from The Royal Society of Arts in London.
1830's 34,000 vines sent to Barrossa Valley from 'Camden Park'.
1830 James Busby wrote the book "A Manual of Plain Direction for Planting and Cultivating Vineyards and the Making of Wine in New South Wales". In it, 'Annandale Farm' is praised for its fine vineyard.
'Regentville' now has 10.5 acres under vineyard and is being irrigated with a steam engine that Sir Jamison had imported.
1832 'Horsley' vineyard was established in an area to be later called Horsley Park
Government Farm at Emu Plains is sold.
1833 January - Busby collection of 437 cuttings from the Montpellier Botanical Gardens and 133 from the Luxembourg Gardens, arrives aboard the convict ship 'Camden' in Sydney. The collection is placed at the disposal of the His Majesty's Government into the Sydney Botanic Gardens.
John Eyre Manning established a vineyard at Rushcutters Bay. Believed to have supplied grapes for winemaking at 'Vaucluse House'.
1835 George Suttor planted 2,500 grapes vines at 'Chelsea Farm'.
Henry Whitaker purchased land near Prospect Creek, East Fairfield and established 'Orchardleigh'. In future years, Jacob Stein will work in the vineyard.
'Regentville' is now 15 acres in size with some 30-40,000 vines and up to 200 varieties.
1836 'Montpellier' at Picton offered for sale. Notice lists vineyards.
1837 October - Johann Stein with five other German vinedressers arrived under a five-year contracts to the Macarthurs of Camden. Johann Stein is the first successful person to bring Rhine Riesling into Australia.
1840's Dr William Bland purchases 'Mark Lodge' from the estate of John Horsley and develops extensive vineyards.
1842 Edward Cox (son of William Cox) has a vineyard on his 'Fernhill' property at Mulgoa.
1843 George Suttor published "The Culture of The Grape-Vine and The Orange in Australia and New Zealand"
Jacob Stein arrives with three other vitners, Johann Beckhaus, Johann Jurg and Johann Stumpf under a five-year contracts to the Macarthers of Camden
1847 The Marist Fathers Catholic Order from Lyon, France purchase 'Longwood' at Gladesville and call it 'The Priory'. Vines reported to be growing well.
Joseph Stein arrives under a five-year contracts to the Macarthurs of Camden
1848 'Sand Hill Farm' vineyard is established on Prospect Creek at Carramar by Jacob Stein. The name 'Sand Hill Farm' was later shortened to 'Sandal Farm'.
Hannibal Macarthur sells 'The Vineyard' to Thomas Icely in July, who subsequently sold the property to the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, J.B. Polding. Polding presents it to the Benedictine Order of Nuns.
George Cox obtains 1,000 Hermitage cuttings from Sir Charles Cowper's 'Wivenhoe' vineyard at Camden.
1850's Martin Thurn, a vinedresser bought to NSW by the Macarthur's from Germany in 1852, establishes his own vineyard called 'Camden Bridge Farm' at Camden.
Joseph Doust leases 'Cawdor' at Cawdor and establishes 5 to 7 acres of vineyards.
Frederick Christian Luther, who had previously worked at 'Regentville', establishes his own vineyard at 'The Hermitage' in Camden.
1850 Dr Alexander Berry (from 'Coolangatta' in the Shoalhaven) moves into 'Crows Nest House', North Sydney and develops a substantial vineyard on the property.
1851 'The Vineyard' is renamed the Benedictine Monastery of 'Subiaco'.
1853 'Camden Park' nursery lists 33 grape varieties for sale.
William Charles Wentworth cultivating large enough grape quantities at 'Vaucluse House' to be recorded on an inventory.
1855 Thomas Ireland planted 'Sunnybrook' vineyard near Warwick Farm
1859 July - Dr Charles McKay purchases 'Minchinbury' and plants the first vines during the 1860's. He also had the original winery constructed on the site.
1860 William Fowler erects a three storey winery and still-room on his 'Eschol Park' property. Fowler also establishes a 15 acre vineyard on the property.
1864 Marist Fathers sell 'The Priory' to the Salter Family and move to Hunters Hill and plant a new vineyard.
1869 Henry Whitaker of 'Orchardleigh' wins first prize for the best red at the Agricultural Society Show.
William Arthur Helleyer's Mulgoa property 'Fairlight', has two vineyards and a winery. 
1870 Dr Frederick Norton Manning established a vineyard at Gladesville Psychiatric Hospital, formerly Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum
Between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons of wine produced at 'Eschol Park'.
1876 July - 'Orchardleigh' is subdivided to make way for the village Orchardleigh.
1880's Frederick Chave at Lovett Bay is reported to be growing grapes. Opposite Lovett Bay, the Crawford Brothers at 'Ventnor' are also growing grapes.
John Bruchauser settled at 'Elderslie', Camden, and planted vineyards.
1882 Thomas Henry Fiaschi plants 5 acres of vines at his 'Tizzana' vineyard at Sackville Reach
1886 Leon Houreax plants vines for wine production at 'Rock Lily', Mona Vale.
1887 Patrick Edwin Fallon develops an extensive vineyard from Collaroy to North Narrabeen on his 'Mount Ramsey Estate'.
J.A.M. McLean establishes 'Kaluna' vineyard.
Construction of the sandstone cellars at 'Tizzana' are completed. Vineyards have been expanded to 55 acres.
1888 Phylloxera spreads to the outskirts of Sydney.
Salter family sell 'The Priory' to the Government for arable land at Gladesville Hospital.
1895 James Angus purchases 'Minchinbury' and starts introducing new wine-making technology to the winery.
1901 Mr Himmelhoch establishes the 'Grodno' vineyard at Liverpool. 17 acres of Hermitage and Malbec, with another 15 acres in preparation for planting.
1902 Herman Paul Leopold (Leo) Buring starts working at 'Minchinbury' after having worked at Great Western Winery.
Dr Fiaschi becomes president of the Australian Wine Producers' Association of NSW, a position he will hold for 25 years.
1906 Marist Fathers abandon their vineyard at Hunters Hill.
1907 Patrick Fallon dies and by 1912 the 'Mount Ramsey Estate' has been fully subdivided, thus ending the vineyard.
1908 'Minchinbury' releases its first champagne from its 1903 vintage.
1912 Penfold's Wines purchases 'Minchinbury'. Over the subsequent years, Penfold's will go onto expanding the cellars in order to store in excess of 1.25 million bottles, as well as expanding the vineyards to over 400 acres. Varieties grown include Verdelho, Riesling, Cabernet Riesling, Pinot Noir, Hermitage, Traminer and Pinot Blanc.
1917 Cec Vicary plants vines on his grazing property.
1918 Arthur (Colin) Laraghy purchases 'Kaluna' vineyard. Mainly grew table grapes.
1920 After leaving 'Minchinbury' in 1919, Leo Buring becomes Australia's first wine consultant and builds a home at Emu Plains. On this property, called 'Leonay', he also establishes a vineyard.
1922 A closed order of Benedictine Nuns takes over 'Subiaco'. They occupy the property until 1958 - their main source of income is the sale of altar or communion wine produced on the estate. The estate was demolished in 1961 to make way for a manufacturing plant.
1923 'Vicary's' is producing wine on a commercial scale and selling from its cellar door.
1930 'Cawdor' winery ceases to operate with the onset of the Great Depression.
1954 'Minchinbury' is further expanded with 34 acres of Traminer.
Vineyard established at Cobbitty by the Giribaldi family. Barbera is one of their main varieties grown.
1955 July - Vandals burn down 'Tizzana'
1959 'Kaluna' is subdivided for housing development.
1962 'Minchinbury' vineyard is wound down due to over cropping, grapes imported from other vineyards.
1964 Giovanni and Dino Gogno establish the 6.5 hectare 'Cogno Brothers' vineyard. Barbera, Trebbino, Chardonnay, Grenache and Black Muscat grown.
1968 Peter and Carolyn Auld purchase the ruins of 'Tizzana' and rebuild the sandstone cellars.
Dr Barry Bracken plants 6 acres of vines at his North Richmond 'Richmond Estate' vineyard.
1971 Previous plantings with grafted rootstock at 'Richmond Estate' have failed. Replanting on own roots is successful and eventually 22 acres are under vines. Varieties grown include Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, Merlot, Malbec as well as Black Muscat table grapes. Attempts with Chardonnay are unsuccessful.
1972 Peter de Challis establishes a 4 hectare vineyard and winery at Warragamba.
'Cogno Brothers' winery was built. 100,000 cases of wine produced. Additional grapes from other areas are also bought in.
1975 Norman Hanckel re-establishes vineyards at 'Camden Bridge Farm' and sells the grapes to 'Hungerford Hill' in the Hunter.
1978 June - Winery and cellar operations ceased at 'Minchinbury' as the operations were moved to Tempe.
1979 Vineyards are re-established at 'Tizzana'.
Giribaldi vineyard at Cobbitty ceases to operate.
1980 Norman Hanckel, with the assistance of his daughter Sue, start producing their own wine. 38 acres of vines with Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Trebino and Traminer grown.
1984 'Richmond Estate' is sold to Tom Allen.
1987 April - Heritage classified 'Minchinbury' is destroyed by fire.
Tony Radanovic purchases 'Richmond Estate'.
1999 A small vineyard was re-established at 'Wivenhoe' with Chardonnay grapes.


Norrie, Dr Philip., 1990, Vineyards of Sydney - Cradle of the Australian Wine Industry from First Settlement to Today, Horwitz Grahame Pty Ltd, Sydney, p222.


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