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Great Western Winery Timeline 1858-1922

1830 - Joseph Best born in Richmond, Surrey

1832 - Henry Best born in Richmond, Surrey

1833 - David Best migrates to Australia with his wife Elizabeth, brother George, his sister-in-law and two sons, Joseph and Henry, onboard the ship Vibilier.

1834 - David Best and family alight in Launceston, Tasmania.

1838 - The Best family move to Port Philip

1852 - A French brother and sister, Anne Marie and Emile Blampied, arrive in Australia from Lorraine, on board the English vessel 'Emma Goodwin'

1855 - The Best family erect a station homestead at Spring Creek, known as 'Goodwood'. George Best is killed in a riding accident.

1856 - Anne Marie Blampied meets and marries Jean Pierre Trouette at Beechworth.

1858 - Jean Pierre, Anne Marie and Emile move to the Great Western area in search of gold.

David Best sells up his Melbourne building business to join his two sons at Great Western. They establish a slaughterhouse to service the local miners.

1863 - Jean Pierre plants a half acre of vines with his brother in law, Emile Blampied, at a vineyard they call 'Saint Peters'

1864 - Jean Pierre and Emilie increase the size of their vineyard to 4 acres.

The Best brothers, Joseph and Henry, inspired by the Trouette's success, buy land just near Saint Peters and each plant a vineyard. They call their vineyards 'Great Western' and 'Concongella.'

1866 - Joseph plants the first vine cuttings at Great Western, most of which are procured from the Trouettes.

1867 - Vintage from Saint Peters is displayed at the Ballarat National Agricultural Show, and wins a gold medal.

1868 - First underground drives and cellars constructed at Great Western to store wine. Joseph commissioned local gold miners to dig the tunnels.

First vintage produced from Great Western (38 gallons)

1873 - Joseph Best's Wines win a gold medal at the 1873 London International Exhibition and a silver at the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition.

1877 - Victoria Railways lay a track and a small station through Joseph's property.

1885 - Jean Pierre Trouette dies of pulmonary tuberculosis. The Saint Peters vineyard passes to Anne Marie.

Hans William Henry Irvine marries Mary Jane Robinson.

1886 - Anne Marie's son, Nicholas, drowns, and his sister Marie receives a bravery award for attempting to rescue him.

1887 - Joseph Best dies after a (rumoured) riding accident. The property is offered for sale.

1888 - Hans William Henry Irvine purchases Great Western vineyard for 12,000 pounds.

1890 - Irvine purchases 60 hectares of additional land to the south, known as 'Arawatta.'

1891 - Irvines first trip overseas to study champagne making techniques and to assess the market for Australian wine in Britain.

1892 - A new red brick cellar is constructed for storage of wines.

Irvine produces a report for the Minister of Agriculture on the Australian Wine Industry.

1894 - Irvine begins expanding the underground drives already begun by Joseph Best.

The first sparkling wines are lain down in underground drives.

1897 - Saint Peters is sold to an English family named Merton.

1900 - Irvines wines win a gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition.

1903 - Lord Hopetoun, Governor of Victoria, opens a new drive at Great Western

1905 - Irvine opens a depot in Dowgate Street, London. It is managed by his nephew, Alfred Oslar Watson.

1906 - Irvine sworn in as the first President of the Viticultural Society of Victoria.

1907 - Drives reach 1.6 kilometres in length

1908 - Great Western Winery gains warrant to use "By appointment to His Majesty the King and H.R.H Prince Charles" and the Royal Seal. Irvine's wines win the Grand-Prix at the Fraco-British Exhibition.

1910 - The Dame Nellie Melba Drive is opened.

1912- The London depot is closed.

1915 - Irvine's wife, Mary, dies.

1918 - Great Western and Melbourne cellars sold to Benno Seppelt for £100,000.

1922 - Irvine dies in London following an operation. His body is shipped back to Victoria and buried at the Great Western Cemetery.

References:
Much of this history of Great Western is taken from Ch. 1-3 of L.R Francis '100 Years of Wine Making at Great Western 1865-1965.' private publication, Melbourne, 1965.

Additional information was gathered from researching the Irvine manuscript collection at the State Library of Victoria. I am also indebted to David Dunstan's book Better Than Pommard! A History of Wine in Victoria (Melbourne: Australian Scholarly Pub, 1994) for filling in the finer details of Irvine's life.

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