||This article may require copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone, or spelling. (July 2013)|
|Location||Shire of Strathbogie, Victoria, Australia|
|Wine region||Nagambie Lakes, Goulburn Valley|
|Other labels||Tahbilk, Dalfarras|
|First vines planted||1860|
|Key people||Alister Purbrick|
|Varietals||Marsanne, Viognier, Sauvignon blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Verdelho, Mourvedre, Roussanne|
|Other attractions||Wetlands Cafe, Wetlands & Wildlife Reserve, Dalfarras Wines|
Tahbilk is an Australian winery located 120 km north of Melbourne near the township of Nagambie in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria. Established in 1860, it claims to be the oldest family owned winery in Victoria and is part of the Australian wine alliance, Australia’s First Families of Wine.
The name Tahbilk originates from the winery's location which the local aboriginal people first referred to as "tabilk-tabilk" meaning "place of many waterholes". The 'h' was added by the winery in the hope of increasing sales in Europe.
In 1856, Hugh Glass became the owner of the Goulburn River property that included the future Tahbilk. Rushworth storekeeper Ludovic Marie convinced Glass that the land was suitable for viticulture and took over 258 acres of the property for a proposed vineyard and winery. Marie brought in his friend, the former Goldfields Commissioner at Rushworth, Richard Henry Horne, who had as part of a 'foolhardy business transaction', invested in blocks of land at nearby Murchison on the Goulburn River. But as 'the village grew slowly' Horne was eager to 'promote any venture which might bring prosperity to the district' and agreed to participate in the winery plan. The two set up a public company, the 'Goulburn Vineyard Proprietary', with Marie as manager and Horne as honorary secretary.
An advertisement for the company from 1859 was looking for capital of £30,000 in £5 shares and listed on its 'provisional committee', in addition to Horne, J.G. Dougharty of Melbourne, and N.R.D. Bond and A. Sinclair of Murchison. The advertisement continued:
"The position of the land, the quality of the soil, the proximity of the water, make the property the most desirable spot which could be selected for vine growing. The quantity of grapes produced by the few stocks of vine in the garden and at the house, is an indubitable proof of the capabilities of the ground."
In August 1860 the company was now the 'Tahbilk Vineyard Proprietary' with Ludovic Marie as 'Principal Vigneron' and Charles Ebden and James Blackwood as 'trustees'. The 'provisional directory', in addition to Horne and Bond was Richard Eades, John Pinney Bear, David Wilkie, George Holmes, Hugh Glass, Samuel Rentech, G.S. Evans, J.W. Mackenna, J.H. Brooke and Donald Kennedy. In all there were three Members of the Legislative Assembly, two Members of the Legislative Council, two Justices of the Peace, the Swiss Consul, the Argentinian Consul-General and the then Mayor of Melbourne.
Addressing a dinner of vineyard workers in 1861, Marie was quoted as saying 'the money for all these extensive operations which were being carried on was found almost solely by three gentlemen... Messers. Bear, Glass and Holmes'.
Of the earliest founders, Sinclair was found dead in Brighton, in May 1860, from an overdose of 'morphia' administered by persons unknown with 'a list of shareholders in the Goulburn Vineyard Company... found sewn up in the pocket' of his coat. One of the last men to see Sinclair alive was Ludovic Marie, who was found insolvent in August 1861. While, for Horne, the venture didn't compensate him for the money he had lost in the early public float, and he returned to England, but he later claimed 'he was the father of the Australian wine industry'.
When Marie left, John Pinney Bear assumed control and progressively bought out the other shareholders until he was sole owner in 1876. By that year Tahblik's 'annual vintage was around 315,00 litres' and was 'winning national and international awards'. Bear employed Francois De Coueslant as manager in 1887, and De Coueslant is credited with planting the estates' mulberry trees and building the winery tower. A year later The Argus reported that Tahbilk had received a wine order from Queen Victoria.
In 1889 Bear, a former Member of the Victorian Legislative Council, died at Tahbilk. De Coueslant left the same year and 'Chateau Tahbilk' (as in was known) went into decline with the vineyard shrinking to 46 hectares by 1925. It was purchased by the Purbrick family in 1931 and remains in their ownership.
Tahbilk claims to be oldest (1860) family owned winery in Victoria. Other wineries claim to predate Tahbilk's origins such as Chambers Rosewood Winery and Gehrig Estate Wines in Rutherglen being founded in 1858, while Morris Wines, also from Rutherglen, claims to have been founded in 1859. However none of these wineries have had the continuous 'family ownership' of Tahbilk.
Tahbilk claims to have the largest, single holding of Marsanne in the world. The first vines were cuttings in the 1860s from the St Huberts Winery in the Yarra Valley; another old winery but without a continuous history since that date. The present plantings of Marsanne date from 1927.
The winery specialises in the Rhone varietals of Marsanne, Viognier and Roussanne and also produces Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon blanc, Verdelho, Grenache and Mourvedre. Some original pre-phylloxera Shiraz vines survive from 1860.
The many awards of Tahbilk wines include the Diploma of Honour, the highest award obtainable at the Greater London Exhibition of 1899. Tahbilk was the National Winner in the Parks, Gardens and the Environment Category of the Best of Wine Tourism Awards 2007.
Tahbilk is part of Australian wine alliance Australia’s First Families of Wine a multi-million-dollar venture to help resurrect the fortunes of the $6 billion industry highlighting the quality and diversity of Australian wine. First Families chairman is the Tahbilk chief executive Alister Purbrick. The 12 member alliance includes Brown Brothers, Campbells, Taylors, DeBortoli, McWilliam’s, Tahbilk, Tyrell’s, Yalumba, D'Arenberg, Howard Park, Jim Barry and Henschke. The main criteria are that the family-owned companies need to have a “landmark wine” in their portfolios listed under Langton’s Classification and/or 75% agreement by group that a wine is considered “iconic”, must have the ability to do at least a 20-year vertical tasting, have a history going back a minimum of two generations, ownership of vineyards more than 50 years old and/or ownership of distinguished sites which exemplify the best of terroir, commitment to export and environmental best practice, appropriate cellar door experience, and be paid-up members of the Winemakers Federation of Australia.
Tahbilk Wetlands Cafe
In 2005 construction was completed on a dedicated Wetlands Café built to service visitors to Tahbilk.
In a dramatic architectural statement the ironbark, stone and corrugated roofed building rises from the Pepper Paddock, as its location is known, with your Wetlands experience beginning from a jetty below its sweeping outer deck. The Café is also home to the Dalfarras range of wines and Dalfarras Gallery. Established in 1991, Dalfarras is the vinous child born of a collaboration between winemaker Alister Purbrick (C.E.O. of Tahbilk) and his artist wife Rosa Purbrick.
Alister crafts each Dalfarras release utilising the best fruit from Nagambie Lakes & other premium vineyard sites around Australia, whilst selected works from Rosa's extensive, and ever growing, portfolio are reproduced on the labels - and on display on the Cafe's Gallery walls. Rosa also lent her maiden name Dal Farra to its naming.
Wetlands and wildlife reserve
With the construction of the Goulburn weir in 1889, the various stages of Sugar Loaf Dam in 1915, and Lake Eildon completed in 1956, the historical flow regime of the Goulburn river was changed, from one of high flows in winter to one of a permanently flowing summer irrigation stream. Previously the river and its associated billabongs had periodically dried back into a series of water holes. Indeed the local indigenous people knew this area as “tabilk tabilk”, or the place of many water holes, thus giving the property, Tahbilk, its name. The present Tahbilk wetlands area was created with the raising of the water level at the time that the Goulburn Weir was built.
The Tahbilk wetlands are an open ended or self flushing wetlands being joined to the Goulburn at both ends. With its slow moving and warmer water, the Tahbilk wetlands have become a safe haven for a vast array of indigenous flora and fauna. At least two threatened or endangered species are making the Tahbilk wetlands their home. The native cat fish (Tandanus tandanus) which is declining throughout the Murray Darling Basin is now breeding in the wetlands and the Water Shield Lily (Brasenia schreberi), which incidentally is unique to Victoria, is also thriving in the Tahbilk wetlands.
The preservation of the environment has always been a priority of the Tahbilk Estate. The Purbick family, who have been custodians of the property for five generations, were amongst the first to institute an integrated pest management and a whole farm plan. Long before it became fashionable to plant trees, Tahbilk Estate was planting local igneous trees and shrubs to form inter connecting wild life corridors to allow the free passage of animals, birds and insects across the Estate.
Tahbilk Estate, in partnership with various Government agencies including the Dept of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), The Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (GBCMA), The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA), and The Goulburn Broken Indigenous Seedbank (GBIS), are running a number of environmental rehabilitation programmes. These include an ongoing pest plant and animal eradication programme, an indigenous flora and fauna identifying programme, and the monitoring of the water quality by measuring the turbidity, (water clarity), salt content (EC), dissolved oxygen content (DO), and water temperature. In addition to these, and other projects, Tahbilk Estate and Seedbank have established a trial site for the production of local indigenous seeds for revegetation projects throughout the Longwood Plains area. Projects in the pipe line include the redesign of the Tahbilk wetlands outfall to allow for the more effective passage of fish between The Wetlands billabongs and the Goulburn River.
It is interesting to note that the existence of the wetlands and the associated waterways, has created a particular meso-climate that has enabled Tahbilk Estate to produce a range of superb, and unique varietal wines.
Tahbilk Estate is justifiably proud of the Tahbilk Wetlands and Wild Life Reserve which has been designed as a living, breathing educational tool to be enjoyed and easily accessed by everyone.
Dalfarras is the "vinous child" of husband and wife team, Alister and Rosa Purbrick. Alister, General Manager and multi-award winning winemaker at Tahbilk, crafts each release from selected parcels of fruit from Australia's premium viticultural regions; and Rosa - as one of Australia's promising artists, visually encapsulates each release on the stunning labels.
In 2005 Dalfarras found its "home" with the opening of the Tahbilk Wetlands Cafe. The contemporary design and feel of the Cafe were ideally suited to the Dalfarras image and so a Dalfarras Tasting Bar and Gallery were incorporated into the layout.
- Victoria Winery Tours
- Simon Evans, The Australian Financial Review, Tuesday 18 August 2009, Page 61
- Chris Snow, Decanter Magazine, 17 August 2009, Top Australian wineries team up to push super-premium wines
- History of Tahbilk
- Tate Adams (2006). The First Vines. Macmillan Education AU. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-1-876832-29-2. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- Blainey, Ann (1963). The farthing poet : a biography of Richard Hengist Horne, 1802-84; a lesser literary lion. London: Longmans. p. 219.
- "Advertising.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 31 December 1859. p. 3. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "Advertising.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 23 August 1860. p. 3. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "TABILK VINEYARD PROPRIETARY.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 2 August 1861. p. 6. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "ADJOURNED INQUEST ON THE BODY OF MR. A. SINCLAIR AT BRIGHTON.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 31 May 1860. p. 5. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "LAW REPORT.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 28 August 1861. p. 6. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "ORDERS FOR VICTORIAN WINE FROM THE QUEEN.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 13 September 1888. p. 9. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "DEATH OF MR. J. P. BEAR.". The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954) (NSW: National Library of Australia). 28 October 1889. p. 7. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- "DEATH OF MR. J. P. BEAR, EX M.L.C.". The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) (Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia). 28 October 1889. p. 5. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
- News & Information for the Australian Wine Industry
- National Trust of Australia
- Marsanne at Tahbilk
- Tahbilk awards
- Best of Wine Tourism
- "The Heart & Soul of Australian wine to launch in Sydney on Monday 31 August". Winetitles, Australia's wine industry portal. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "First Families forge pact to promote wine". Jamie Freed, Business Day. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "Australia’s first families team up". Ken Gargett, Meininger's wine business international. Retrieved 2009-08-21.