Its Good To Be Australian
On January 26th, we will be paying our respects to the 717 convicts that survived the journey to New Holland in 1788 as part of the first fleet. Some of their stories of survival in this harsh and unforgiving land are an inspiration to us all.
With Australia Day fast approaching, we wanted to find the Australian winery that is most closely aligned with our national day. And we think we have come up trumps with Westlake Vineyards.
It turns out that they have a direct connection to Edward Westlake who was one of those 717 convicts that survived the First Fleet and whose signature adorns the front of Westlake Vineyards “717 Convicts” label.Westlake are a small, family owned and operated business committed to producing quality wines from their vineyards in the renowned Barossa Valley.
Their ancestor, Edward Westlake was born on 28 December 1752 and was married in England on 30th December 1779 to Elizabeth Mortimer. He was tried and convicted at Exeter, Devon on 20th March 1786 for stealing 40 pounds of mutton with a value of 10 shillings, together with John Mortimer and Noah Mortimer, who we assume were his wife’s relations. He was subsequently sentenced to transportation for 7 years and left England on the Charlotte, one of the 6 ships of the First Fleet. He was one of the 717 convicts who survived, arriving at Port Jackson on 26th January, 1788, a day that is now known as Australia Day.
In March 1788, not long after arriving in Sydney, a party of 23 people including 15 convicts (9 male, 6 female) were chosen to make the 1368 km journey to Norfolk Island. The aim was to farm the land and to grow crops to support the increasing population in Sydney. Edward was one of the 23 chosen as it was said that he was the best of a bad lot.
After serving his sentence, he and his wife and 6 children were relocated to Van Diemen's Land in 1808 aboard “The City of Edinburgh”. He was granted land at Clarence Plains (Rokeby). He remained a grazier and died in 1828. He was buried at New Norfolk.
Darren Westlake is a direct descendant of Edward Westlake, and together with his wife, Suzanne Westlake, lovingly tend 22ha of Shiraz, 6.5ha of Cabernet Sauvignon, 2ha of Viognier, and smaller plantings of Petit Verdot, Durif, Mataro, Grenache and Graciano planted on two properties in the Koonunga area of the Barossa Valley. They do all the vineyard work personally, and have a long list of high-profile winemakers queued up to buy their grapes, leaving only a small amount for production under the Westlake label. Suzanne is a sixth-generation descendant of Johann George Kalleske, who came to Australia from Prussia in 1838.
Their aim is to highlight the soils and seasons in which these vines grow and to celebrate their differences, ensuring that each vintage will have its own story to tell.
Their success is evidenced by their 5 star rating from James Halliday’s Wine Companion, with several of their wines being rated as high as 96 and 97.
For more information on Westlake wines as well as some of our other iconic Australian wines, see our Australia Day promotion at http://www.grapesandlager.com.au/collections/australia-day-specials