My Days of Wine

1932 Vintage Crush 13,622 Tons

Friday April 1st 1932

Grape prices for South Australia

River Murray Irrigation Districts l


Price per Ton
  Gordo Blanco
  Gordo Blanco Distillation
  Hermitage, White
  Pedro Ximenes
  Zante Currant
  Dried Grapes-below standard
  Buck Currants
  Dried Doradillo Grapes prior 1932


Thursday July 23rd 1932

Oscar Seppelt. He thought that Berri had accomplished in 10 years what the Industry had needed 80 years to achieve. B. Seppelt & Sons Ltd had purchased up to £100,000 worth of spirit a year from Berri. Bill Rump started at Seppeltsfield as a mail boy, but such was his efficiency that he was soon promoted to more important positions, and he had amply justified the trust him.


Thursday December 1st 1932

Mr. J. C. Cheriton, the Chairman tells the story how in two years the distillery has gained seven prizes in open competition.

Today there are 540 shareholders and wages paid out during the busy season amount to £500 each fortnight. The distillery has cost up to date, £181,000, and shareholders reserve and capital total £63,000.

Six hundred tons of fruit have been handled in a working day.

The total tonnage handled in 1932 was 13,000 tons of fruit. In 1931, 15,500 tons and in 1930, 19400 tons.

About £6,000 in wages is paid out each 12 months, and 40 men find employment here. During the season 70 men are employed.

Mr. Rump has been known to taste 200 bottles in one day. As Mr. Cheriton said "If I want to know good wine from bad I watch Rump's face as he "twists" a taste round in his mouth".


1933 Vintage Crush


Thursday March 9th 1933

This report was presented to shareholders on the 6th of March Annual General Meeting. Since May last year the company had dispatched the following amounts of fortified sweet wine:-


Export of Fortified Sweet Wine, May 1932-March 1933  
Month Gallons
May-1932 70,000
June 85,000
July 36,000
Transfer of London Stocks 123,000
December 30,000
Jan-1933 114
February 70,000
March 22,000


From the various reports of stocks of wine, sales of wine internally and export, fortifying and brandy stocks, the industry was in delicate position. The Chairman assured the meeting that the Company was not insolvent and will be able to pay fixed prices on 1929, 1931 and 1932 vintages. There was still a problem with large stocks of spirit in our Bond. 31,000 gallons have been sold and possibilities exist to quit 308,000 gallons. It appeared the storage space would be a problem if the sales did not take place soon. The Doradillo intake would have to be extended. I comment that it was hard times and the shareholders rang the changes.

The new board met on Wednesday 7th March and elected Mr. W. N. Ellis, Chairman, and Mr. W. H. Lister vice-chairman.


Thursday May 4th 1933

Mr. Frank. E. Wilson of Clare, was appointed to the position of assistant winemaker to assist the Manager Mr. Bill Rump with increasing production of fortified wine.

Lately there had been rumours that the Company was price cutting in London, but in spite of this, despatches of large volumes overseas were being made.

The large Doradillo tonnages were becoming a problem and a way was needed to make an acceptable sweet fortified wine suitable for export using this variety. The grape is very neutral in flavour and even at 12° Baume and upwards, was low in acid and often had a coarse palate. Quotas had been in force for some weeks and open delivery days were receiving up to 400 tons a day, and given the fine weather, the grapes were of excellent quality.

In September Mr. W. A. Rump was stood down and Mr. W. S. Garnett was appointed General Manager.


Thursday October 1933

A third payment on the 1929 vintage resulting in a total distribution in the order of £19,700 was made and there were further prospects of a further payment at the end of the year.

Entries in the annual Royal Adelaide Wine Show were awarded Highly Recommended marks in the classes for ruby or dark port, tawny port, sweet white and Muscat wines.

The Berri Co-Operative Winery and Distillery Ltd., about 1933. This photograph was taken before the sugar gums had been planted or the Sturt Highway had been sealed.

Thursday November 9th 1933

This copy reported on the "Position of Wine Industry" written by "Moorook" which was addressed at the results of the recent Federal Viticultural Conference and included the "The Doradillo Question" and the "Commonwealth Market".

Feelings that the S. A. Government has been pouring money into the winery have been aired by the secretary of the Federal Viticultural Council which was ill-founded and disproved by the performance of the river wineries, all of which, were doing well on the export scene. More discussion about the oversupply of Doradillo grapes and that caution is needed with the wholesale removal and/or grafting, that could see a decrease in the growers' income. Another observation was that there was excess brandy in bond and with the 3 year requirement of storage in wood before it could be released for sale to consumers, it was possible some winemakers were using brandy for fortification. I found it very interesting reading and it was a good summary of the state of the Riverland wineries at that time. The following years would have to cater for these problems and then deal with the effects of World War 2.


Thursday November 16th 1933

The Berri Growers' Cooperative Distillery Ltd next was faced with accusations of price slashing on the home wine market. After much public discussion it was realised that the company's aim was to make the best return for all concerned and a truce between the Company and the Industry in general was resolved. It had apparently been a "big bun fight" with too many interests of others that sought their personal goal.


Thursday November 30th 1933

An open day was held at the Distillery on Tuesday November 14th was held for members of the following groups:- Winkie and Glossop Returned soldiers Association and sub-branches, in conjunction with the Winkie Progress Association. In the past four weeks some 250 persons had visited the establishment. This was an effort by the recently appointed board to provide stimulus to the shareholders and the public in general.

By 30th November 1933 the roof connecting Block 3 and Block 5 Cellars was installed. The other major item was the purchase of oak containers which could been a mixture of barrels, casks and vats to provide an extra 54,000 gallons for brandy maturation. With the usual storage strength of 110° Proof, and say, 30 Proof gallons per ton of brandy wine, this would cater for (54,000x110/100)/30=19,800 tons of grapes.

I am sure everyone would agree that the period from the decision to form the cooperative enterprise in 1922 until now was an amazing development. Given the times and conditions of that period it seems to me that it was a marvelous effort by many people. Reading the various stories of the "ups and downs" that prevailed from vintage to vintage, I have tried to imagine myself in that situation. In retrospect and not knowing the details, I must admit that I felt sorry for Bill Rump who had battled through those years, provided with an assistant to help with the winemaking, and then was served notice and was replaced in September by Warrington Sydney Garnett.

By now the major part of the establishment was in place and rate of capital expansion would slow and more efficient plant practices would occur. Increasing amounts of beverage wine would be made, requiring markets to be found.

The difficult part of the history has been covered but I wish I could find some more of the old stories. Alas, there are so many that have left our ranks.

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