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BALLAARAT : A DRINKING HISTORY - A boozy LUNCH with Max Allen & Owen Latta.


A time line on the Vineyards & Wine Producers of Ballaarat & Surrounding Areas



  • 1850s Gold Discovered in Victoria - This discovery created many opportunities, wealth grew & society demanded better Drinks & Finer foods. So at this time the victorian vine followed the mine - From Melbourne to Ballarat, Ararat, Bendigo & other regions & Back again


  • 1858 - Mr Dougall McArthur of the Mount Rowan Hotel planted a 2 acre vineyard north facing slope on deep rich chocolate soils, by 1867 the vineyard had grown to 10 acres & 10 varieties.



  • 1859 - Some people will perhaps be surprised to learn that there was a large (for the time) wine producing vineyard within four miles of Ballaarat, Mr Charles Albert Fleischhauser of Dead Horse Gully, Planted a 2 acre vineyard known as the “Ballarat Vineyard” at 1500 ft on the old scale or 450m. Over the years this grew to almost 20 acres of vines & 17 different varieties.  A French native from Strasbourg who owned the Prospectors Hotel in Ballarat. It seemed that the idea was to be more self sufficient to have wine to sell through the hotel & distribute it beyond as it gained recognition. See article attached - The Leader Melbourne Sat 23 Apr 1864 The farmers Column. Fascinating further reading. 



  • 1862 - Saw the first planting at Coghills Creek by Mr John Hawkins which grew to 11 acres by 1880 narrowing it down to 3 varieties, a very passionate farmer who also had an extensive orchard. (he was a correspondent for The Leader news paper in Melbourne retiring to Malvern in 1887. Died 1908 Buried in Coghills Creek.) The Griffins took on the vineyard, orchard & land & continued the legacy, a generational farming family in Coghills Creek to this day. In 1995 Pat Griffin planted a vineyard for Eastern Peake near where the original site was.


  • 1868 - a second planting by Mr Frederick Fardell (Swiss, wife was a very well known quilter of the region) there’s not a great deal of info on Mr Fardell, he had great success in the local Clunes agricultural show 12/11/1872 - 1st prize for his white & red wines not sure what the completion was like at the time or how many entrants there were.


  • 1875 - Discovery of Phylloxera near Fyansford Geelong, this was the beginning of the end for just about all emerging & successful wine producers of the area around Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo & surrounds. Any vineyard connected via transport routes was in serious danger


  • 1878 The whole region of Ballarat & adjoining areas effected or totally destroyed by frost, no vintage to produce for that season.


  • 1880 The Leader (Melbourne) John Hawkins reports that the region is prospering now with 20 years of vine growing experience.



  • 1882-1915 The second cycle, Those successes in International Exhibitions, together with the prospect of the forthcoming Federation removing the high inter-colonial trade restrictions by the turn of the century, encouraged growers to further expand the area under winegrapes. True, there were phylloxera outbreaks in Victoria, but the Victorian Government responded with compensation for forced removal of diseased plants, and then in 1890 it offered subsidies to growers who replanted with resistant stocks. In response, Victoria’s vine area more than doubled between 1889 and 1894.


  • 1883 Another mega frost at flowering reducing the crops to half of their potential production.


  • 1888 Ballarat Business man Hans Irvine travels to Great Western to buy Seppelts after the sudden death of Joseph Best in 1887. Already renown for fine wine production local & internationally, Hans wanted to fulfil his dream of replicating the style of champagne eventually popularising Australian sparkling wine (also keeping miners in a job post gold tunnelling out all the drives underground at the winery)


  • 1890s’ Depression drought & tough times throughout Australia. Domestic alcohol sales were plummeting. Phylloxera continued to spread in Victoria, causing its vine area to decline to the point that South Australia regained the lead in total vine area that Victoria had held for four decades. 


  • In summary it’s been hard to trace what happened to the vineyards of Ballarat & Coghills Creek most likely they were pulled in the depression or it might of been possible that phylloxera made its way to the area, or the serge of fortified wines (not suited to the climate). From all of the extensive research thus far it seems like the area was going to flourish. After a hiatus in the viticulture scene we Jump forward to the 1970s where Ballarat starts to go forward again with wine production.


Resurgence In Ballarat Viticulture


  • 1970 The St Helena 6 acre vineyard was planted at Sulky near Creswick, not quite sure of the varieties planted.


  • 1971 Yellowglen was established by Ian Holm - Melbourne bon vivant & Businessman initially Cabernet Sauvignon (3.5 hectares) & Shiraz (2 hectares) were planted up until 1975. Following these plantings 1 Hectare each of Pinot Noir & Chardonnay were planted up until 1979. Gary Farr of Bannockburn made the red wines down there & Neill Robb of Redbank/Sallys Paddock made the sparkling wines from his time under his Father who started Chateau Remy (Blue Pyrenees). Other experimental varieties were planted along the way. Ian had a love for Champagne, realising his site could produce very high quality base wine for sparkling wine. He was convinced that his site in the Ballarat region was the place for Sparkling wine.


  • 1982 The wine industry got Quite the surprise when Dominique Landragin left Seppelts Great Western to join Ian Holm as a Business Partner & take the reins of Winemaker. Yellowglen became a success & continued to grow & grow & Grow.


  • 1983 Dianne Pym & Norman Latta Planted their 1st block of Pinot Noir for a guy called Trevor mast, a young, up & coming passionate winemaker from Ararat leading a very active life in the western victorian wine industry. Plantings continued in 1989, 1991, 1993 & 1994.


  • 1984 - 1989 Quite a few vineyards were planted around the area Mount Beckworth (Tourello), Pat Hope (Bunningyong), Dulcinia (Sulky), Whitehorse Wines (Mount Hellen), Tom Boy Hill (Brown Hill also to note this was Planted High Density at 1m X 1m), Plush’s (Sulky) & a couple of smaller ones


  • 1990s’ after seeing these “fools” trail blazing in the districts cool climate the vineyards of Chepstowe (Carngham), Myola (Coghills Creek), Mt Coghill (Coghills Creek), Walsh Block (Coghills Creek), Rokewood Junction Moonscape (Rokewood Junction), Bended Knee - Mt (Buninyong), Nintingbool Vineyard (Smythes Creek), Garibaldi (Garibaldi), Captains Creek (Blampied) and many other smaller sites.


  • 2000s Kangaroo Hills - May’s (Blampied) Sinclar’s (Scottsburn), Walsh Block Syrah (Coghills Creek)

  • 2010s Attwoods - Troy Walsh (Scottsburn), S Ireland (Scottsburn)

  • 2017 Karel Schafer (Two Mile hill near Coghills Creek)

  • 2020 & beyond Sean Howe (Coghills Creek) & Robert Heywood (Mount Bolton near Coghills Creek)

  • 2021 Hopefully More going in at Eastern Peake & definitely more going in over the road at Sean Howe’s

  • Its an exciting time in the Ballarat Region Especially over in the Coghills Creek Catchment area!

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