Wine has been prominent in the life of New South Wales since the First Fleet arrived, and Dr Julie McIntyre from the Faculty of Education and Arts in her book First Vintage reminds us of its long and often fraught history.
Her book is an outstanding regional history of the Australian wine industry, with particular emphasis on the Hunter Valley and Port Macquarie regions, and a world-class contribution to the history of wine.
First Vintage reveals the people who dreamed of making Australia a wine-drinking country, and shows the challenges of choosing wine stock, the battles to protect against pests and diseases, and the innovations which assisted small-scale growers, many in wine regions which have since vanished from the landscape.
Shortlisted for the 2013 NSW Premier's History Awards, First Vintage is written in a lovely lyrical style, with touches of humour. It is one of those rare works that crosses over from academy to the general reading public, and has been warmly embraced by historians, the wine industry and general readers. It appears that wine making, selling and drinking has brought people to Australian history who might not have otherwise connected with it.
Dr McIntyre will be the guest speaker at the annual John Turner Memorial Lecture, on Thursday 15 May 2014.