It makes one think that these sturdy pioneers of former times had a greater belief in Australia and her possibilities, and more energy and foresight, than are apparently possessed nowadays. But while I am on the subject of the literature of Australian viticulture I must not forget to mention an excellent little pamphlet by James King in 1857, entitled, Australia mag be an extensive Wine-growing Country.
Indeed, James King was another of those far-seeing men who were convinced that there was a great future for the Australian wine industry; moreover, he did a good deal in the way of developing it by cultivating the grape and by making wine.
Now, there are certain figures connected with vine-growing and the consumption of wine which possess a great value in relation to Australian viticulture, inasmuch as they enable us to see more clearly its relative progress, and, what is more, they indicate its future possibilities. It is only by methods of this kind that we are enabled to form an accurate estimate of the condition of any industry. And besides this, too, they act as a stimulus to increased exertion. But it will be still more interesting and instructive to make a comparison between the little which has been done in wine production and the almost incredible proportions of our wool industry. And when it is remembered that there was nothing to prevent the wine trade from attaining a magnitude very like to that of wool, it will be seen what magnificent opportunities have thus far been practically thrown away.
At present the whole of Australia annually produces only a little more than three million gallons of wine, while the yearly yield of France is 795; of Italy, 798; of Spain, 608; of Hungary, 185; and of Portugal, 132 million gallons. And another thing is that the whole of the five colonies of Australia and Tasmania have altogether no more than 48,099 acres under vine cultivation. The total amount of wine made in the six foregoing colonies for the year ending March 31st, 1892, was only 3,604,262 gallons. The city of Paris itself requires nearly 300,000 gallons of wine daily, so that this single city would consume in 12 days all the wine which the whole of Australia takes 12 months to make. So far back as 1875 the production of wine in France alone was 1,844,400,602 gallons. And lastly, there is just one more fact worth remembering, which is that the approximate value of the 1890 vintage to France was nearly 40,000,000. sterling.
Let us see, on the other hand, the gigantic strides on the part of wool. In 1805 the amount of wool exported from Spain was 6,895,525 lbs., and from Australia nil. In 1811, however, Australia exported the modest quantity of 167 lbs. In 1861 the exportation from Spain had fallen to 1,268,617 lbs., while from Australia it had increased to 68,428,000 lbs. In 1891 New South Wales alone produced 857,096,954 lbs., representing a value of 11,036,018 And lastly, the wool exportation of Australia and Tasmania (not reckoning New Zealand) for the same year reached the enormous figures of 593,830,153 lbs., with a value of 20,569,093?.
The disproportion between the attention which has been given to viticulture and that which has been bestowed upon wool-growing is well brought out in the following table : -
Table showing the value of the total amount of Wine produced in the Five Colonies of Australia (including both that for local use and that for export) for the year ending March 31st, 1892; and the value of Wool (only that exported, and therefore irrespective of that locally required) for the Five Australian Colonies and Tasmania alone, and not including that exported from New Zealand, for the year 1891 : -
Total value of Australian wine (local use as well as export) produced for the year ending March 31st, 1892, only about -
Value of wool exported from Australia and Tasmania alone in 1891 (and therefore irrespective of the additional value of that locally required), not less than -__..-
From the foregoing, therefore, it will be apparent that the whole subject of Australian viticulture is one of tremendous importance; and I am strongly of opinion that practical results will only be brought about by awakening in the mind of the Australian public an active interest in everything connected with this, though yet undeveloped, great wine industry. "With that object in view, therefore, it will be my endeavour to bring forward those main points of viticulture which it is most desirable should be widely known. But such an attempt, to be successful, must largely depend upon the arrangement which is adopted, for it is impossible to do more than take up the principal matters concerned with the space which is at my disposal. The scheme which has been devised will, it is hoped, help to a clear understanding of the subject.