by Judith Fitz-Henry
Editor’s note: This article was originally produced in HAFS Journal Vol 8 No 1 May 2005.
Dr HJ Lindeman was one of a number of medical practitioners who came to Australia in the first half of the nineteenth century to practise medicine. From his medical studies, he must have been aware of the health benefits of good wine. It is also very likely he had heard that good farming land was available in the Hunter Valley, to the north of Sydney; and that capable people with capital were being encouraged to emigrate to the colony of New South Wales. Whether he came here with the preconceived idea of becoming a grape grower and vintner, as well as a medical man, and where he obtained his original expertise in this field, is not known.
He was born September 21st 1811, at his maternal grandmother’s home, in Egham, Surrey, UK, son of Dr John William Henry Lindeman and his wife Jane Sophia Lindeman nee Taylor, of Hythe, on Southampton Water, Hampshire. In 1825 at age 14 he became apprenticed in Hythe to his father for five years, by indenture to learn the skills of a doctor. In 1830 he was successful in obtaining a place at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, one of the most prestigious teaching hospitals in London, where he completed his training and in 1834 was made a member of the Royal College of Surgeons.
On 11th February 1840 Dr Lindeman married, in Southampton, Eliza Harriet Bramhall, the 18 year old ward of businessman Joseph Abraham Bramhall. By 24th March they were on board the 494 ton barque Theresa, bound for Sydney via Melbourne. Dr Lindeman was the ship’s surgeon for the voyage. They arrived in Sydney on 18* August 1840.
By early 1841 Dr Lindeman and his wife had moved from Sydney to Gresford on the Paterson River, a tributary of the Hunter, some 44 kilometres (27 miles )north of Maitland where the Hungerford family had settled after their arrival in Sydney in 1828. Here he set up his medical practice, and on 1st October 1841 their first child, Harriet Jane, was born. By auction on 12th January 1842, Dr Lindeman bought 330 hectares (816 acres) of land on the Paterson River which was called Cawarra, from George Townshend of Trevally who was obliged to sell some of his original land grant on the Paterson due to the drought and the 1840s depression. A wood slab cottage was built on Cawarra for the Lindeman family.
On the rich alluvial flats on the north-western side of the river Dr Lindeman planted his first Riesling, Verdelho and Shiraz grapevines in 1843. The area planted expanded over time to 16 hectares (40 acres). He also experimented with sugar and tobacco for a while, and later he successfully bred horses and raised cattle. It was not unusual for the early settlers to grow grapes; eaten fresh they were a welcome addition to the diet. Cuttings had been brought into the colony from the Cape since the arrival of the First Fleet.1 They grew well from the beginning of settlement.
By the 1840s many vineyards had become established for wine-making in the Hunter. On the Paterson River there were two others besides Dr Lindeman’s: the Dunmore vineyard north of Hinton planted by Andrew Lang, a brother of John Dunmore Lang, and the Lewinsbrook vineyard of Alexander Park near Gresford, while at Seaharn on the Williams River, to the east, the Rev Dr Henry Carmichael MA(Edin), Government surveyor in the Hunter district and pioneer educationalist as well as vigneron, had established his vineyard and winery on Porphyry.2
From the start Dr Lindeman was determined to produce only pure, unadulterated wine and not to sell any until it had been properly matured. He built a large wood slab winery, with storage cellar below which was soon full of casks of maturing wine. In 1847 he obtained permission to bring out a German wine dresser and a cooper. In 1850 he joined the Hunter River Vineyards Association. This had been formed in 1847, with Dr Carmichael as one of its foundation members, to promote Hunter Valley wines and provide mutual help and support. Dr Lindeman became its President over the years 1863 -1870.
Dr Lindeman bought the properties Brinkburn across the Paterson River to the north west of Cawarra, and also Talga further upstream towards Penshurst from the Holden family with whom in due course there were to be three intermarriages. Between 1841 and 1863, ten children were born to Dr and Mrs Lindeman. Eliza must have been an admirable and capable woman, caring for the growing family, managing the busy household, and dealing kindly with the aborigines. It must have been helpful that Dr Lindeman’s unmarried brother Arthur Flint Lindeman, five years his junior, joined the family in the early days and assisted with the education of the children. He remained at Cawarra until he died in 1872.
On 13th September 1851, shortly before their fifth child was born, and when all seemed to be going well for them, Dr Lindeman’s slab wood winery and the cellars beneath where 91,000litres (20,000 gallons) of wine were maturing were destroyed by fire. The loss was estimated to be at least 1,500 pounds, a fortune in those days. Those responsible were never apprehended. There was, however, no damage to the house, nor to the vineyard or the livestock, and no one was harmed. Dr Lindeman was able to finance the rebuilding of the winery and cellars – this time in stone, quarried on the property – from the sale of cattle. Then a new family home was built, also in local stone, for the growing family which must surely have pleased Eliza. It was extended and completed as it is today in the early 1900s. With its fine views across the valley intact, it is still occupied by Lindeman descendants.
Having overcome this setback, Dr Lindeman continued to expand the vineyard and, as well, started buying grapes from other growers in the district to increase his production of consistently good dry white wine. During the 1860s he gained overseas recognition by exhibiting his wines in London and Paris. By 1870 he had established his own headquarters, winery and cellars and bottling complex at the Exchange Cellars in Pitt Street, Sydney. In 1872 he bought vineyards in the Corowa district, on the Murray, to diversify into the market for heavy sweet wines such as port, muscat, and sherry, and the distillation of brandy. He went into print on several occasions to promote the health benefits and civilising influence of good wine, taken in moderation and preferably with meals.
Dr Lindeman died on 23rd May 1881, in his 70* year. He was buried with his brother, Arthur Flint Lindeman, in the graveyard behind St Anne’s (Anglican) Church, Gresford, where the family worshipped, and where many of its past members are now memorialised in its beautiful stained glass windows. He left the running of the well-established business he had founded to three of his sons. Charles Frederick Lindeman, his third son, born 1854, became the Manager, while Arthur Henry Lindeman became the winemaker, and Herbert William Lindeman the taster. They were to trade as a family company under the name HJ Lindeman and Company.
It is in this first generation of Australian-born Lindemans that we find the connection to the Hungerford family. On 31st October 1883, Charles Frederick Lindeman and Florence Edith Chapman [E.8.7a] were married at St Paul’s (Church of England) Church, Burwood. Florence was the seventh child of the Rev Robert Chapman [E.8=] Rector of St Mary’s, Maitland, and his wife Anne Loane Chap-man, nee Hungerford [E.8], eighth child of Emanuel and Catherine Hungerford (nee Loane). The bride’s wedding veil, ordered from England, arrived by ship two days late for the wedding: but Aunt Flo had the pleasure of seeing many Lindeman and Chapman brides wearing it during her long lifetime. She died aged 91 in 1956.
I have it on the good authority of Charles and Florence’s seventh, and youngest child, Marjorie Florence Fanning nee Lindeman [E.8.7a.7b], that it was a very happy marriage. Family life in Redmyre, Strathfield with her six brothers and sisters and lots of pets, including native animals – they had lots of space – was all a child could wish for. As the littlest, Marjorie was the only one sometimes allowed to get into bed with her parents: ‚”After all, my dear, there just wasn’t enough room for all of us !” Their family home was later in Bramhall, in Jersey Road, Strathfield, named after Eliza.
H.J. Lindeman and Company continued to thrive and expand. It was producing increasing quantities of good quality wine and winning medals wherever they were exhibited whether in Australia or abroad. The three brothers consistently adhered to their father’s philosophy of producing only quality matured wines. The casks were made from solid oak imported from England or the Baltic. In 1900 the firm moved its City headquarters from Pitt Street to the Queen Victoria Building, still such a distinctive and well-kr1own building in Sydney today (although there was a time when we nearly lost it; but that is another story).
The cellars and bottling operation occupied about one half of the lower ground level of today’s QVB and extended from York Street to George Street. Casks of wine that had already been maturing for several years in the cellars at Cawarra were taken by bullock dray to the wharf at Paterson, shipped to Sydney, and finally brought uphill from the wharves by horse and cart. They were then taken, still on the carts, by powerful hydraulic lifts down to the cellars on the floor below to be stored in what were ideal climatic conditions until maturation of the wine was deemed to be complete. Then, and only then, was the wine bottled.
Some of the larger storage casks had capacity of up to 5,800 gallons, while the total storage capacity of the cellars was some 300,000 gallons: conversion to metric measure seems hardly worthwhile! The bottles were stacked in storage bins, each with a capacity of 200 dozen. The cellars could hold 10,000 dozen bottles, not counting those already purchased and awaiting collection. They were said to be the largest metropolitan cellars in Australia and one of the sights of Sydney. It was a treat for the children to be taken to see them – Marjorie Fanning clearly remembered how wonderful the smell was. Spare a thought for the Lindeman family when you are next shopping in Sydney’s magnificently restored Queen Victoria Building!
A period of expansion and acquisition began for the Company after Federation in 1901. Wine could now be sold across State borders, forcing closure of some of the smaller wineries and thus facilitating their purchase by the then larger and more efficient businesses such as Lindeman’s, and Penfold’s which was founded by Dr Penfold, another medical man. Among Lindeman’s purchases was the Ben Ean vineyard in 1912 from JW McDonald at Pokolbin, and Kirkton from the Kelman family in 1914.
One Lindeman purchase known to me was the name Porphyry (not the property) from Gavin Dickson Carmichael, grandson of Dr Henry Carmichael. By the time G Dickson Carmichael (as he styled himself) went to World War I with the AIF Second Battalion, he had not only sold the name to Lindeman’s, but also had all the vines grubbed out and the land prepared for dairying. He was killed in 1917 in World War I near Passchendaele in Belgium: his name is on the Menin Gate. His will divided the property into three parts. That part now known as Porphyry, which then had the original house, winery, and distillery on it, was inherited by his young godson and second cousin, Gavin Vardon Ralston, who was on his grandmother ‘s (Mrs Henry Carmichael, nee Ralston) brother’s branch of the family. It remains Ralston property today. The Porphyry label is still used by Lindeman’s for a sweet white wine that, as ‘Porphyry Pearl’, was likely to have been the First alcoholic beverage girls of my generation tasted in the post war years.
In 1918, Charles Lindeman retired and his eldest son, Frederick Harold Lindeman [E.8.7a.1b], always known as Eric, became the Manager. He was also the wine-maker at Ben Ean and was responsible for planting the long paddock there. He inherited all the problems of the over-expansion during the pre-war years. Times had changed; vineyards which produced the fine, dry table wines for which there now was little or no demand were no longer profitable. The market now wanted the heavily fortified sweet wines, a taste for which had been developed in the trenches. Wine-drinking, for a while, became less socially acceptable. The temperance movement gained ground, turning public opinion away from alcoholic beverages generally. Lindeman’s financial indebtedness to the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney grew. Nevertheless, Eric Lindeman continued to work for the firm through the Great Depression, until his death in 1938. He was the last family member to do so, although his brother Dr Grant Bramhall Lindeman [E.8.7a.2b] served on the Board of Lindeman Wines for a number of years. Dr Grant Lindeman was Marjorie Fanning’s brother and beloved godfather. He was the only one of Dr HJ Lindeman’s many children and grandchildren to follow him into the medical profession. Grant was a dermatologist in Macquarie Street, Sydney, for nearly 50 years.
Lindeman’s Wines became a public company in 1953. During the 1950s and from then on as Australian society became increasingly multicultural, appreciation of and demand for good Australian table wine steadily increased, both at home and abroad. It was in the CBC’s interests to continue the production of Lindeman’s wines and maintain their good name and reputation. Successive managers and technical people were chosen with care. In 1971 Lindeman’s was taken over by Phillip Morris, then by Penfold’s Wines in 1990. Now both Penfold’s and Lindeman’s (amongst many others) are part of Southcorp, Australia’s largest conglomerate wine maker. The high reputations both have for fine wines, built up and maintained over the years, must surely be a significant factor in the current take-over attempt of Southcorp by the Fosters Group.
- Captain Watkin Tench records the first picking of grapes in his journal for January 24th 1791: “two bunches of grapes were cut in the governor’s garden, from cuttings of vines, brought three years before from the Cape of Good Hope. The bunches were handsome; the fruit of moderate size, but well filled out; and the flavour high and delicious”.
Later that year, on 3 December, he records that ”Here [in the govemor’s garden] are eight thousand vines planted, all of which in another season are expected to bear grapes”. Later he confidently predicts that “I am convinced that the grapes of New South Wales, will, in a few years, equal those of any other country”.
Sydney’s First Four Years, A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay and A CompleteAccount of the Settlement at Port Jackson 1788-1791 by Captain Watkin Tench of the Marines, with introduction and annotations by LF Fitzhardinge (published in association with the RAHS, Library of Australian History, Sydney 1979) pp217-8, 247-8, 264.
- Information for this paragraph obtained from WP Driscoll, The Beginnings of the Wine Industry in the Hunter Valley, Newcastle History Monographs No 5 (Newcastle Public Library, The Council of the City of Newcastle NSW Australia, 1969) pp24-25. Driscoll says of Cawarra, , “Planted in 1843 by Dr Henry John Lindeman, Cawarra was to become one of the largest and best known Hunter vineyards, and Dr Lindeman one the greatest of the nineteenth century wine makers”.
- The General Store I knew in my childhood advertised itself with the words ‚”We’ve got it, we’ll get it, or it’s not to be had!” Every country town needed one in those days.
In writing this account I am much indebted to Dr Philip Norrie, who wrote LINDEMAN: Australia’s Classic Winemaker, the History of Dr HJ.Lindeman & Lindeman’s Wines (Mosman: Apollo, 1993). It is a carefully researched account, dedicated to his father and his forebears, the First to arrive in NSW being Alexander Norrie in 1839. With his son Alexander he worked the Commodore Farm at Gresford and ran the General Store3 where Dr Henry John Lindeman and his family obtained supplies for their estate, Cawarra. Dr Norrie, a medical doctor at Elanora NSW with (in 1993) his own vineyard, Pendarves Estate at Belford in the lower Hunter, was commissioned by the Lindeman Co. to write the book and retrieve fact from fiction in the many stories about Dr Lindeman handed down in the family and repeated in a number of publications.