our first indigenous winemaker
deserves a little more kudos!
by PHILIP WHITE
David 'Unaipon' Ngunaitponi was thirteen when the benevolent politicians, graziers and winemakers, Charles Burney Young and his son, Harry Dove Young, employed him as a servant in 1885. Later they built him lodgings at their Kanmantoo Pastoral Company homestead, Holmesdale.
That world championship, just by the way, was far from unique in the Holmsedale trophy cabinet. The Youngs were persistent and confident internationalist exhibitors, entering their reds in wine shows and agricultural expos all over Europe and the USA. There is a serious trove of awards and certificates in the archive.
Publicly a teetotaller, Unaipon nevertheless worked many vintages in the Kanmantoo cellars - his signature is in the cellarhands' paybooks; it appears by the names listed there that the harvest was picked (into kerosine tins) by other Ngarrindjeri people under his supervision. The bookwork shows he was certainly hands-on in the cellar.
Handy bloke to know if you were exporting Antipodean wine to the Old World a century back.
Milton Wordley's photograph of the White family at our father's funeral at Callington in August 2013. He was James "Pastor Jimmy" White, non-conformist Protestant street preacher. He raised us in the old Black Dog Inn in Kanmantoo. Here's his mob: left to right it's Stephen, Paul, Helen, Sylvia May, our Mum, me and Mark. Mum died the following December. Missing is brother Andrew, who was killed in a car crash with my cousin, Jennifer, en route to the funeral of Sylvia's mother. That was a very bad week. All us blokes worked for Nora on the Young's big farm as we grew up. We learnt a lot there: the basics. How to sharpen knives, clean a shearing floor, shoot vermin, herd stock, pull weeds, dress sheep. We were allowed to take redgum firewood from the property to keep our cooking stove and fireplaces fed. In the baking Bremer Valley on the edge of the Murray Estuary, Kanmantoo and Callington are blessed in summer by the relieving breezes that came off that big lakes system - Ngarrindjeri country - each evening.
FOOTNOTE: I have removed a line in this which could have been interpreted as racist. It was never meant to be. Apologies.
PS: Publish something like that story, and look what soon inevitably happens: a miracle: even the sea suddenly appears; the humble old single-storey stone Holmesdale vintage cellars grow magically into a grand chateau with belltower!