Even though table wine consumption in Australia still averages just two bottles per head (by 2010 it will be more than 25 bottles per man, woman and child) the Barossa’s winemakers are leading a new – high altitude-fine wine revolution.
Yalumba purchases the old Pewsey Vale vineyard in the Barossa Ranges established by Joseph Gilbert in the 1840s and starts experimenting with cool climate Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon; Orlando plants its Steingarten Riesling vineyard on a windy, stony hillside; Thomas Hardy & Sons launches Siegersdorf Riesling and John Vickery makes magic with Riesling from Eden Valley at Leo Buring. Penfolds also releases Bin 60A in 1962, a blend of Barossa Shiraz and Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon, which will still be considered Australia’s best wine 50 years later.
Wine chemists such as Ray Beckwith and Tony Kluczko play an important role in wine quality control and new technologies such as centrifuge filters and carbon dioxide blanketing, to prevent oxidation in white wines, become common place.
Near Angaston a new star is born – Peter Lehmann has finished his apprenticeship at Yalumba and takes over as chief winemaker at Saltram, creating a big, long-lived “hydraulic press” Shiraz. It will be the beginning of a journey that will re-define the Barossa in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Barossa Vintage Festival Association introduced a wine auction to the Festival program in 1965, primarily to help fund the Vintage Festival and to support local community charities.
The 1965 Auction was promoted as an auction of “Old and Rare Vintage Barossa Valley Wines” described as “a wonderful range of old and rare vintages are being made available by Barossa Valley winemakers to those lovers of unique and special wines that Mother Nature deigns to provide us with on rare occasions, and which are not ordinarily available.”.
In 1967 the auction moved to the Barossa Co-operative Winery Cellar No. 2 and was held on a Friday at 2pm, a day and time that continued for many years. Theodore Bruce & Co. were the auctioneers with 162 lots offered for sale, ranging from in size from 2 bottles to 100 dozen. Gross receipts at the second auction were $8,000 with a highlight being a 1892 Seppelts Port selling for $30 a bottle. 75% of lots offered were table wines with the auction committee going to some lengths in promoting the progress of Barossa winemakers in producing “delicate table wines” through “foresight and modern technical developments”.