by PHILIP WHITE
Apart from Wild King Roy Malone, the ’sixties Elizabeth Downs blues player with an orange front tooth who studied the purple Bacchanalian art at Roseworthy winemaking college, the first winemakers I can recall meeting were from Padthaway and Coonawarra.
In the early ’seventies, I’d taken a government display caravan from The Department of Mines and Energy down there to the regional agricultural shows to explain that the days of drilling holes through various aquifers in search of free irrigation water were over, and that severe regulations would soon be imposed. Idiot drillers were poking holes through saline aquifers to find fresher ones below, letting the salty ones pollute the fresh ones as they went.
The winemakers treated me like shit. Arrogant, blazered, moleskinned and dumb. I drove, fuming, all the way back to Adelaide, thinking “you bastards. I’ll get you some day”. Five years later I was back there as a wine critic.
The following series of columns from the archive are generally related to water issues. Whilst I started on this topic thirty years back, it really came to a fever pitch in my years at The Advertiser, whose editors hated me discussing water issues in the wine column. They would never run irrigation stuff on the front of the paper. When they fired me, after twenty years determinedly discussing these issues wherever I could squeeze them in, the water stuff suddenly filled the front half of the paper. Now the wine column regularly praises the sorts of wines that caused all the problems. I am not bitter. But I will never forget. Read on: