My Days of Wine

1974 Vintage Crush 20023 tonnes

Allocation was 13436 tonnes to Wine and 6586 tonnes to Spirit. Ratio 67.1%

Average Baume 11.46° (including Sultana)

Have AGM Report

February 25th 1974 was a disaster with an explosion at approximately 9.20am caused by an electrical short in a portable light lead and ignited the spirit in a wooden spirit receiver in the bottom floor of the Bond Store. I happened to be in Berri that morning, heard the news, and by the time I arrived the bulk of the Bond Store had been destroyed. Local Fire Appliances as well as two units from Adelaide attended but stood no show against the intensity of the fire.

The 90 foot level channel, the Winkie road, the Tarac premises and behind is the Bond Store well alight. There is a sheet of flame on the south side top of the Stillhouse and you can see a jet of water being sprayed onto the tower. I still have to determine whether there was a fire in the Stillhouse tower. The direct lines from the stills to the Spirit Receivers did not have non-return valves installed in the delivery lines.

A huge plume of smoke which I am told could be seen from Berri and Barmera townships. On the right of the is the east end No.2 Cellar.

The fire in full flight.

The fortifying spirit storage tanks at the rear of the Bond Store. These tanks contained fortifying spirit and fortunately did not explode. I believe this is early in the peace before the fire reached its peak given the amount of smoke.

Being black and white does not highlight the flames but it is growing in power

Across the channel and over the Winkie road, this shot shows the burning stream of brandy flowing around the back of the Tarac building with facade of white and red roof into the small vineyard of Rhine Riesling-check with Russell Frost. I remember walking to the corner of that building about 12 o'clock and there was a steady stream of brandy about 18 inches wide and blue flames to about 4 foot high. The flow into the Tarac vineyard destroyed a significant portion of the vines. Russell Frost will know!!!

The aftermath of the fire, and this shot is looking south west at the rear bond area with the steel tanks to the left. It was a mass of stone, steel custom orb sheets, the steel racking sections, steel tie rods from vats and the hoops from the barrels. A devastating sight!


1975 Vintage Crush 31833 tonnes

Allocation was 18210 tonnes to Wine and 13623 tonnes to Spirit. Ratio 57.2%

Average Baume 12.2° (including Sultana)

New Brandy Bond and Spirit Store completed in April and can store up to 500,000 gallons of brandy and spirit. From the distillation plant in the centre, product collects in the outside spirit receivers and then transferred to the Bond. South of the Bond Store is the Spirit Store consisting 6 Stainless tanks housed in a concrete bund. Mild steel tanks can be seen on the south side of No.2 Cellar and some of these were originally outside the south wall of the Old Brandy Bond. The other significant structure is between the Main Cellar and the western "Lily" Pond and is an Insulated Cool Room containing stainless steel tanks and the temperature is maintained at 0-1° Centigrade. This was a new development for the Industry and it saved the cost and energy of insulating tanks stored in the open and having to periodically cool the tank contents. The winemakers had a choice at this time between this system and the other that added high concentrations of sulphur dioxide to preserve the grape juice, and during the out of vintage period could de-sulphur the juice and ferment. I was always of the opinion that the latter procedure diminished the essential flavour compounds during the removal of the sulphur dioxide.

New Bond Store with Spirit Store to the south in a concrete bund. This was completed in April 1975, some 13 months after the fire.

New oak hogsheads for brandy maturation in the new Brandy Warehouse.

Brian Barry made a presentation to the Board after the 1975 vintage that there was a lack of processing capacity for the table wine make. His recommendation to install a number of "Miller" drainers and a 1000 mm diameter COQ press was agreed to and this materially helped in processing more of the crop as well as improving the quality of the table wines. I am researching with F. Miller an Co. as to equipment.

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