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Murray Almond's "From the Left Island"

What's in a Name?
© Murray Almond
15 November 2001

It use to be all so easy, you had a winery, you had a surname, you were proud of your wine, and your surname, so what not name your winery after yourself? This is most appropriate if your name is Crawford, Penfold, Seppelt, or Lindemans. But wines and wineries have been named for all sorts of reasons. Shoppers of Left Island Wines and travellers to ours shores have noted all variety of unusual names for wineries.

Some have a historical link. A "Run" is the name for a sheep station. Mildara's Jamieson's Run is the appropriate name for vines planted on Farmer Jamieson's old sheep station. Likewise the Coonawarra neighbour Riddoch Run pays acknowledgment to when John Riddoch was known for more than just full bodied red wines.

Redbank's "Long Paddock" is also a reflection of the rural strength of Australia. The Long Paddock is the reserves on the side of country roads, so stock may be taken out of the farm along the 'long paddock' for a feed on the roadside verges.

Some winery names also reflect the gold history of Australia. The, now defunct, label "Chinaman's Bridge" Merlot was named after one of the many Chinaman's Bridges across Australia, a legacy of the Chinese migration during the gold rush.

Other are pure geographic, travellers to Australia are sometimes amazed to see the Great Western is a township in Western Victoria, not just a name for cheap sparkling wine or a very good full bodied red. Nearby Langi Ghiran overlooks the Mountain of that name. A simple solution may be to name the winery according simply to where it is. Redbank winery is in Redbank, Coldstream Hills is sited in the hills around Coldstream, Dromana Estate is near Dromana, and guess where Warrenmang might be? This could lead to problems, although I'm not aware of anyone flying to New Zealand's Island to taste some of Gary Farr's Bannockburn Pinot Noir.

Increasingly nowadays, the name of the winery is chosen as part of the overall marketing plan for the winery. This can be to feed on the prestige of the area. The Yarra Valley is a prime case where you have Yarra Yering, Yering Station, Yerinberg, Yarra Bridge, Yarrabank, Yarra Burn, Yarra Ridge, Yarra Valley Hills, Yarra Yarra, Yarra Edge and Eyton-on-Yarra.

Wineries may be also named as part of the marketing process to evoke a "mood" for the winery. "Lost Valley" from the Victorian High Country is an example, along with Provenance, Domain Chandon and Passing Clouds. One name that charms me is "Dulcinae", from near Ballarat in Victoria. Dulcinae is from 'The Man of La Mancha' where only a fool fights windmills. Quite appropriate for the winemaker's art.

Australia's had a long history of naming places from all sorts of sources, Bastard's Hill is the name of a very good Chardonnay from the Yarra Valley. It's name was given by the pickers who had to climb the thing to pick the grapes. And there's a place near Ballarat called Cape Clear. There is no Cape nearby at all, in fact it's along way the ocean. 100 years ago the place was a boggy patch along the bullock trail between the port at Geelong and the goldfields at Ballarat. A Bullock driver wanted to warn others of the peril, and with his grasp of english, erected a keep clear sign that read "Kape Klear". And Cape Clear it remains.

As yet I haven't seen a wine from Mount Buggaree, even though it's a prime high country spot in Victoria's Strathbogie Ranges., but there's still time.

© Murray Almond
15 November 2001

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