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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Smith, Sidney (1837–1908)

by Jaki Ilbery

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Sidney Smith is a minor entry in this article

Samuel Smith (1812-1889), winemaker, was born on 17 July 1812 at Wareham, Dorset, England. He was a successful brewer before he migrated to South Australia with his wife Frances and five children in the China in 1847. After a time at Klemzig near Adelaide, he moved to Angaston where he worked as a gardener for G. F. Angas. In 1849 he bought thirty acres (12 ha) to establish his own vineyard and orchard which he called Yalumba, Aboriginal for 'all the country around'; he planted at night and worked for Angas during the day, later asserting that it was a year of struggle, 'but God gave me wonderful strength and my wife helped in every possible way'.

In 1852 Smith and his son joined the rush to the Victorian goldfields. On his sixteenth shaft he was lucky and returned after four months to Adelaide £300 richer. He spent £80 on eighty acres (32 ha) which he let out, £100 on a plough, two horses and a harness and kept the rest for future cellars and another house. In 1852 he made his first wine and by 1862 had nine acres (3.6 ha) planted with shiraz. He gave cuttings to his neighbours and later bought their grapes to make wine; in 1863 he produced sixty hogsheads (13,638 litres). Yalumba wines quickly won repute for quality, gaining a bronze medal at the 1866-67 Intercolonial Exhibition, Melbourne, and a silver medal at the 1878 Paris Universal Exhibition.

Smith was a prominent member of the Angaston Congregational Church and was for many years superintendent of the Sunday school. He died of chronic Bright's disease on 15 June 1889 survived by his wife, four daughters and a son. His estate was sworn for probate at £11,178.

His son Sidney, born on 4 March 1837 in Morden, Dorset, arrived in South Australia with his parents. He accompanied his father to Ballarat and Bendigo in 1852. On 1 October 1862 he married Eleanor Jane, daughter of Thomas Caley. He later became a partner in the business and on his father's retirement in 1888 took over the management of the estate. He supervised the building of the two storey winery and clock tower, made of blue marble. By 1900 there were 120 acres (49 ha) under vines.

Sidney was chairman of the Angaston District Council and was long associated with the volunteer movement. He died of chronic renal disease on 27 November 1908, survived by five sons and three daughters. Some years previously because of failing health he had retired, transferring the business to two of his sons. Percival took charge of the wine-making and cellar operations while Walter supervised marketing and built up exports to England and India. In 1975 Yalumba was in the hands of the fifth generation of the family in South Australia.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Ward, The Vineyards and Orchards of South Australia (Adel, 1862)
  • J. J. Pascoe, History of Adelaide and Vicinity (Adel, 1901)
  • S. Smith & Sons Ltd, 100 Years in the Good Earth, 1849-1949 (Adel, 1949)
  • Register (Adelaide), 17 June 1889.

Citation details

Jaki Ilbery, 'Smith, Sidney (1837–1908)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 10 August 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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