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Mazure, Léon Edmond (1860–1939)

by Merrily Hallsworth

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

Léon Edmond Mazure (1860?-1939), winemaker, was born probably on 30 October 1860 at Villeneuve, Coulommiers, Seine et Marne, France, son of Alphonse Mazure, and educated at the Christian Brothers' College, Nogent, Burgundy. Edmond's father and uncle were vignerons and he acquired some knowledge of winemaking. When he was about 18 he went to the celebrated vineyard Clos Vougeot, for some nine months, before acquiring experience in Spain, at vineyards in the Xeres district and in Catalonia.

At Barcelona an opportunity for adventure presented itself, and Mazure joined the Marquis de Rays' expedition to New Ireland (1880). The party arrived at its destination but, disappointed with their prospects and their treatment, he and two others left in an open boat. They were wrecked on the coast of New Ireland, however, and after a fortnight of vicissitudes were picked up by a German ship and taken to New Britain. Mazure remained there for about twelve months trading for a German firm and, after recovering from an attack of fever, started to return to France.

While waiting in Sydney for a vessel, Mazure learned that (Sir) Samuel Davenport required a vigneron at Beaumont, South Australia, and secured the position, arriving about 1884. He stayed for eighteen months, then took charge of C. B. Young's Kanmantoo vineyard for a similar period. Mazure was naturalized in 1885. On 16 May that year at the registrar general's office, Adelaide, he married Philomine Henriette, sister of Joseph Gelly, winemaker at Beaumont and later Chateau Tanunda; there were to be five children of the marriage.

At the jubilee exhibition in Adelaide in 1888, Mazure was in charge of the cellars; his job involved the classification of about 1000 different kinds of Australian and European wines for the jury. Engaged by (Sir) Josiah Symon as manager of the Auldana vineyard, in 1899 he was taken into partnership and when the enterprise became a limited company in 1903 became managing director. In May 1900 he was appointed honorary commissioner to enquire into the European wine industry, visiting Spain, Portugal and every wine district of France. In 1909 he again returned to Europe for the Franco-British Exhibition in London.

Mazure was among the first vignerons in South Australia to make champagne on a large scale (in 1896), to preserve olives and to introduce levures into the making of wine. In 1887–1912, while at Auldana, he was awarded eighty-three first prizes, seventy-one seconds and twelve thirds by the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society at the Adelaide wine shows. For three years in succession Auldana hock, chablis and sherry gained the champion ten-guinea cup against all Australia. A councillor of the South Australian Vignerons' Association, Mazure became a wine and pruning judge, initiated a pruning competition for boys under 18, and took out several patents for ideas including the Mazure corkscrew, a corking machine and a windmill bird scarer. He was a member of the Adelaide Stock Exchange and was appointed a justice of the peace in 1901.

In 1909 Mazure bought part of Home Park, and called it La Pérouse. Between 1914 and 1921 he won a further fifteen first prizes and ten seconds at the Adelaide wine shows, under his own or his wife's name. By 1920 he had built substantial cellars on the corner of Government and Penfold roads, and employed Hurtle Walker, whom he had trained at Auldana. Under the Romalo label, Walker carried on the méthode champenoise as did his son Norman later under the Seaview label. Mazure had created the original St Henri claret by 1890, followed by the St George and the St Henri special. The winemaker John Wilson claimed in August 1993 that Mazure also created the unique style of Australian sparkling burgundy in 1895.

Retiring to Victor Harbor in the early 1920s, Mazure established a roller-skating rink, a dance hall and a coffee shop in his casino on the foreshore. Photographs showed a well-dressed man, chubby-faced, with a waxed moustache and dark hair. He had blue eyes, smoked small cigars and was proficient in traditional French style cooking. His grandchildren reported that he was strict but compassionate. Mazure died on 29 April 1939 at Albert Park and was buried in the Cheltenham cemetery, Adelaide. His wife, three sons and one daughter survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Whitington, The South Australian Vintage 1903 (Adel, 1903)
  • H. T. Burgess (ed), Cyclopedia of South Australia, vol 2 (Adel, 1909)
  • S. Williams et al (eds), The Regenerative Spirit, vol 2 (Adel, 2004), p 86
  • Australian Vigneron and Fruit-Growers Journal, 2 July 1894, p 52
  • Wine and Spirit News and Australian Vigneron, 25 Mar 1915, p 120
  • Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal, 8, no 3, Aug 1993, p 207
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 1 May 1939, p 14
  • J. Ludbrook and Associates, Hurtle Walker of Romalo, notes (1964, privately held)
  • Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society (South Australia), Wine Show results, 1887-1912, 1914-21.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Merrily Hallsworth, 'Mazure, Léon Edmond (1860–1939)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mazure-leon-edmond-13090/text23681, published first in hardcopy 2005, accessed online 17 November 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Volume, (MUP), 2005

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