United States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign Commerce.

Consular reports, Issues 196-199 online

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to dispose of their wines. Mr. Irvine cleared out the cellars, increased the
vineyards, added to the cellars, and the vine- growing industry took a fresh
start. Planting went on steadily until the acreage is now almost trebled.
Mr. Irvine is certainly the man for the place, being energetic and progress-
ive. He has visited England and France to ascertain the right type of
wine required for the home market. He has been foremost in advising the
growers of the state of the markets and the European methods of vine cul-
ture and wine making. He has imported from Rheims three Frenchmen,
who formerly worked in the cellars of Pommery & Co. and who are thor-
oughly skilled in the manufacture of champagne; he has increased the tun-
nels or cellars (which are some 50 feet below the surface) till you can walk
over a mile through the different passages. In short, he has made the place
just what it should be — ^a well-equipped wine cellar, modeled after the cel-
lars of Rheims and Spernay. The gardens which surround the house are
bordered by the vineyards, and the house is nestled in a setting of emerald

In the making of wines, roughly speaking, the difference between cham-
pagne and still wines is that, in the latter, all fermentation takes place in the
wood before bottling it, whereas in the former, a certain amount of fermen-
tation takes place after bottling. It is this which generates the natural
carbonic-acid gas which gives the foam and sparkle to champagne.

The process of making clarets and hocks is simple, compared with that
of champagne making, which, it has been well said, essentially demands labor,
skill, minute precaution, and careful observation. It is this which makes
champagne so dear in price.

For ordinary still wines, the juice flows from the press into the vats, and
after having been allowed to clear, is transferred to casks of different sizes,
and goes through the ordinary fermentations until it is racked and fined and
bottled off. In champagne, latent fermentation is secured by transferring
the wine to a cooler cellar, as it is essential it should retain a larger propor-
tion of its natural saccharine matter to insure its future effervescence. To
accurately describe the process of making champagne, the juice of the grape
flows from the vats or presses into huge casks and there remains for about
one year, during which time, of course, fermentation has been going on.
It is then drawn off and bottled and the cork secured to the neck by a strong
metal clasp. Then the bottles are stacked in long rows to about the height
of a man, each bottle being placed on an incline with the neck down. It
is now that the trouble and labor commence. Standing in the champagne
No. 196 8.

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cellar of the Great Western Vineyard, one faintly sees by the light through
the doorway excavated on the hillside, long, black rows of bottles in vistas
which vanish in the gloom. There are 30,000 dozens of champagne here.
Dark figures, dimly illuminated by the candles they carry, are apparently
going through a sort of Indian-club exercise. As we approach, we find a
man removing bottles from the stacks with each hand and giving them sharp
turns with the wrists before placing them on another pile. For two or three
months the champagne is so turned while the saccharine matter is ferment-
ing, and, little by little, becomes alcohol, and carbonic-acid gas is generated;
a loose sediment is also forming and the turning and twisting are to prevent
this clinging to the sides of the bottle. In due time, the bottles are placed
on "shaking tables** — frames holding 10 or 12 dozens, in which they can be
kept with necks downward at varying angles. Here, for months, they are
daily turned ever so little, until all the sediment has collected about the
cork in the neck of the bottle and looks like so much mud ; then, the process
of disgorging takes place. The workman holds the bottle over a large tub
and removes the cork, when all this refuse or sediment immediately flies out
(and a little of the wine as well) and the wine is left absolutely pure. The
contents of the tub into which the sediment flies is not lost, as it is in turn
rebottled and makes an inferior kind of wine (called, in France, "tisane,"
and drank by the poorer class of people). The bottle is then quickly placed
on an ingenious machine, which temporarily closes the neck and retains the
gas until it is refilled from other bottles that have been disgorged. It is at
this stage of the champagne making that what is known as the "dosage"
takes place. Every bottle receives a dose of liqueur composed of sugar candy
and brandy, which makes the wine more or less sweet.

The Russians like the sweetest wine, the percentage of sweetening for
wine going to Russia being as high as 25 per cent, while the English prefer
it dry, the sweetening for English wines being only i per cent. Here in
Victoria, the wine is given from i to 4 per cent of sweetening. After dis-
gorging and sweetening, the bottles are quickly recorked. The corks, to
half their length, are compressed by a machine to sizes sufficiently small
to allow them to enter the neck of the bottles while a sort of hammer descend-
ing drives them home. A metal plaque bearing the impress of the maker is
then placed at the head of each cork, a wire top over this, a twist with a
pair of pincers, and the final manipulation of the champagne is accom-
plished. It is stacked and reposes until completely matured, and it is then
labeled and sent forth to the various markets. Every now and then, as we
walk between the large stacks of wine, we hear a sharp report like a pistol
shot. These noises are caused by exploding bottles. The fermentation in
these has been too strong or there has been some defect in the glass of the
bottles and so the bottles burst. The loss by this at the Great Western
Vineyard is from 7 to 10 per cent. In France it is often much greater, in
some vintages being as high as 25 per cent. This loss is another reason of
the dearness of champagne compared with other wines. The bottles are

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only tised once, as the great- pi essu re of the fermentation weakens them and
they can never be trusted afterwards. A champagne bottle is the very
strongest made, weighing nearly 2 pounds. Champagne corks are of a
special variety and cost 6 cents each delivered at the vineyard. The cost
of labor, bottles, corks, and loss in bursting must always make champagne
a dear wine.

The cellars of the Great Western Vineyard already extend under the
gVBkos and house, and, with the extensions being constantly made, will
soon cover laUes. As it is, the long passages cut out of the decomposed
granite appear to eatfind for miles, and one can compare them to nothing
but the catacombs of Rwne and Paris. Many casks and 20,000 dozens of
wine are here stacted in the bins cut in the walls of the passages — cham-
pagne, hock, and claret. A special marit claimed for the Great Western wine
is that it goes through a second course of maturing in the bottle after it has
matured in the wood. Mr. Irvine critically examines bottle after bottle by
the light of the candle he carries, and will not place any wine on the market
till he considers it perfect.

Retracing our steps up two flights of stairs, we are in the surface cellar
once more. Here are the presses and great vats holding 1,200 gallons each.
All the wine here is hock or claret. The capacity of this cellar is 120,000
gallons. The grapes are received in the top story and shot down into the
presses, which are worked by leverage. There is no treading the grapes, as
in the time of Virgil, when the red juice foamed ** round the white feet of
laughing girls," though Mr. Irvine tells me he once saw such a sight iiv
South Australia, where a number of barefooted girls stamped out the juice
of the grapes, which ran into the vats beneath. Next to the cellars are the
offices, and a large storeroom in which are stored corks, wires, and a great
quantity of bottles ready for use.

At one time, the Government here allowed a small subsidy to the princi-
pal wine growers, though of late years this has not been paid, with the
single exception of one vineyard, which is a sort of training school in viti-
culture. This institution receives a subsidy of J750 per year, and young
men are received and thoroughly instructed in all that tends to make one a
successful wine grower. The vineyard is large and extensive ; thoroughly
practical men are employed as instructors. Fine wines are grown there, and
there is every facility for thoroughly acquiring the trade.

Melbourne, May 77, i8g6. Consul- General,


The city of Melbourne is laid out after the plan of the city of London,
that is to say, the city of Melbourne proper occupies but a small territory
and it is the suburbs which go to make up the population. The city proper
extends from Flinders street to Victoria street from north to south, and from

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Spencer street to Spring street from east to west, and covers a territory less
than a mile in extent in either direction. Surrounding the city, are the
cities and towns of Fitzroy, Collingwood, Richmond, Hawthorn, South
Yarra, Prahran, Windsor, St. Kilda, Albert Park, North, South, East, and
West Melbourne, Port Melbourne, Brunswick, Carlton, Footscray, and others.
All these combined make Melbourne, with a population of about 430,000.
The population has decreased of late years, many of the inhabitants having
gone to seek their fortunes in Western Australia. Some five or six years ago,
the population was estimated at nearly 500,000, but the unusual depression
and general lack of business have tended to reduce the population to the
present figure.

During the fifty-six years of its existence, the city has never built a sewer,
and the consequence has been that, as the city grew, the imperative need of a
complete and proper system of sewerage became apparent. The matter
was mooted from time to time, but it was not until the year 1889 that active
steps were taken. Then, the Melbourne and metropolitan board of works
sent to England and invited the presence here of an expert civil engineer,
Mr. James Mansergh, to make a detailed report as to the best method of
building a sewerage system for the city. Melbourne lies at the head of a
landlocked bay some 45 or 50 miles from the sea. It was not practicable to
discharge the sewage into this bay, as there was only a narrow outlet into the
ocean, and it was feared that, in the course of a few years, it would accumu-
late to the detriment of health and navigation. Neither was it considered
feasible to build a sewer to the sea, on account of the great distance and the
attendant expense.

It was, therefore, deemed advisable to construct a sewage farm at a dis-
tance of 20 miles from the city, and there burn the refuse, and it was to this
end that Mr. Mansergh's report was requested. Mr. Mansergh spent some
two months here and submitted several reports, from which the present sys-
tem was finally elaborated, it being a combination of his several reports, with
improvements suggested by Mr. William Thwaites, the engineer in charge of
the work here. Heretofore, small sewers had been built in some of the streets
which emptied into the River Yarra. The liquid refuse was conducted in
the first instance into the street channels; it consisted of urine, a small quan-
tity of night soil, kitchen water, bath water, soap suds from the washing of
clothes, drainage from stables and sheds, waste liquids and washings of trades
and factories, mixed to a varying degree with the surface water from the
streets and house roofs.

The River Yarra flows very sluggishly as it approaches the sea, the result
being that it is rendered exceedingly foul, unhealthy, and unsightly. In
examining the outfall of these small sewers, Mr. Mansergh found that the
liquid discharged was to all appearances quite as offensive and polluted a com-
pound as the sewage of a fufly water-closeted town. The greatest pollution
of the air, however, was produced by emanations from the pans for night
soil. The closets are frequently close to the dwellings and are not venti-
lated. The pans are not cleansed in any way and in many instances are not

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emptied with sufficient frequency. Hence, intolerable odors arise during
the process of emptying these receptacles into the night carts. The residue
left in every pan after emptying produces offensive effluvia, which remains
till the residue has dried and crusted.

Accustomed as we have been to water-closets at home, we find the appli-
ances in vogue in Melbourne disgusting. People who have never known
what it is to live unsurrounded by cess pits, privies, night-soil pans, or ill-kept
earth closets, will wonder how Melbourne could have existed under such con-
ditions when these things have been swept away and decent water-closets
have taken their place. In submitting his report, Mr. Mansergh determined
the sizes of the internal sewers as follows:

(i) That they should suffice, without any alteration, for a long term of
years and so avoid disturbance within the metropolitan district.

(2) That they should provide the above-named margin of carrying power
for rainfall in addition to sewage proper.

(3) That by reason of their surplus storage capacity, overflow should
rarely occur in rainstorms, as time will be given for the pumping power to
overtake the discharge.

Mr. Mansergh proposed the construction of the sewers on the basis of
what will be the city's need at the expiration of fifty years, when the popu-
lation will probably be 1,700,000.

Mr. Mansergh estimated that the scheme he proposed would cost ;^5,8oo,-
000 (128,225,700) ; but this scheme was modified by the board of works here
and the chief engineer, so that the amount finally appropriated for the work
was ;^3,5oo,ooo ($171032,750). The work is already more than half com-
pleted, and what has been done includes the hardest part of the work, such
as tunneling the river for the main sewer. The total amount thus far ex-
pended has been ;^i,8oo,ooo ($8,759,700). It is, therefore, contended that
the amount appropriated will be ample to cover the total cost of the work,
allowing for all contingencies. Of course, before the whole system is com-
plete many years must elapse; but the board expect to have the sewers in a
state to open up, so that connections may be made with all the houses in the
city, early in 1897. The board raised the money in England by issuing
bonds bearing 4 and 5 per cent interest. As the money was raised in times
of depression, the bonds were not all floated at par.

At the sewage farm, the outfalls end with their inverts at the highest point
on the land selected in each case, and as there will always be a certain depth
of sewage running in them a greater area will be commanded than would be
due to the invert level. Small tanks, with simple screening apparatus, will
be constructed at the point of discharge, and from them, open or lightly
covered channels or carriers of gradually diminishing size will be contoured
with suitable gradients along the high sides of the land, so as to deliver an
adequate proportion of the sewage to every part, and from them it will be
distributed in as simple a manner as possible over the whole area. Within
a radius of 3 miles from the center of the city it is imperative for every

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householder to connect his house with the sewers; beyond 3 miles, it is for
the present optional with the householders

The sewers are designed to carry 30 cubic feet of sewage per head per
diem from the centers of population to the pumping station, which will be
situated near the junction of Stoney Creek and the River Yarra.

The amount of rain water allowed to enter the sewers will be reduced to
a minimum ; only exceptionally polluted surfaces will be provided for, such
as cab stands, stables, cow yards, etc. All the polluted house water from
water-closets, urinals, kitchen sinks, baths, washhouses, etc., will be dis-
charged directly into the sewer.

The sewage will be collected at the pumping station by sewers running
along the main valley lines of the metropolitan area and the shores of Hob-
son's Bay, which will pick up in their course the flow of all the subsidiary

At the pumping station the heavy matter will be separated from the fluid
portion by means of strainers, which will be cleansed from time to time, and
the material retained by them, mixed with ashes from the boilers, and burnt
in a refuse destructor, which will also afford the means of destroying the local
refuse of Footscray and Williamstown, the two nearest towns.

The liquid sewage will be lifted from the pumping station about no feet
from the outfall sewer through three line§ of 6-foot wrought-iron pipes, about
2^2 miles long. The outfall sewer will ultimately be 11 feet in diameter,
with a fall of 2 feet to the mile and capable of discharging 18,000 cubic feet
a minute; it will discharge on the sewage farm, which covers an area of
about 8,800 acres, situated on the western side of the River Werribee, about
20 miles from Melbourne. It is intended to provide settling reservoirs for
separating the sludge from the general body of the sewage and distributing
the water over specially prepared areas, the effluent from which will be dis-
tributed by broad irrigation over the remainder of the farm.

The board of works have gone about the building of this sewer in a proper
manner. Contracts have been made for doing the different work ; but the
contractors are rigidly held to their contracts. A defective piece of piping
is at once rejected and the utmost care is taken to see that the mason work
of the cisterns is all properly done.

As mentioned before, the work is more than half completed. Through-
out the entire city the piping has been laid, 9-inch to 15-inch pipe carrying
the refuse to the main sewer. The plan has been to take a block at a time
and lay the piping at a depth of about 12 feet and make connections with
the houses. The character of the soil and the entire absence of frost from
the ground have rendered the work comparatively easy, blasting having been
necessary only occasionally. The contractors have put on a double set of
workmen, a night force coming on at 7 o'clock and working steadily through
the night. The contractors are liable, and must exercise every care in the
performance of their work; in fact, the same conditions prevail that are
usual in all cities on work of this kind. The workmen engaged in laying

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the pipes through the streets are paid from $1 to I1.50 per day for eight
hours' work, and the wages of the men at work in the tunnels and the main
sewer run from I1.25 to I3 per day.

The board have issued specifications for the supply and delivery of steam-
plowing gear in full working order at the sewage farm. The boilers of
these engines must be tested by 240 pounds on the square inch by hydraulic
pressure, and the requirements usual in like cases prevail. Cultivators, steam
harrows, crosskill rollers, Oliver plow, and ditching plow are also called for
in the specifications. There follow specifications for water-closet pans, en-
gines, and boilers for the pumping stations ; in fact, the board undertake the
supply of every requisite necessary to the completion of the work and the con-
nection of the houses with the main sewer. The board also protect the
workmen, and in any case in which the contractor fails to pay them their
wages, the board is empowered to do it and deduct it from the money of
the contractor.

A few words in description of the sewage farm. The total area of the
farm is 8,847 acres, subdivided in the following manner :


Available for irrigation 7 tS^S

Tree plantations 357

Private roads in the farm 230

Township north boundary of farm 29

Township near mouth of Werribee River : 73

Board's sheds and offices 16

Not suitable for irrigation, but available for grazing purposes 619

Total 8,847

The methods adopted for dealing with sewage in connection with land
are arranged under three heads :

(i) Chemical precipitation and subsequent treatment by irrigation on the

(2) Purification by broad irrigation.

(3) Purification by intermittent downward filtration.

The first and third systems are only admissible where the value of the
land is prohibitive. The best purification, the least expensive in maintenance,
and the one giving the most profitable results is by the second system. The
ratio adopted is i acre for every 100 persons. The sewage farm as purchased
for these different ratios would be suitable for the following populations :
Ratio of I acre for 80 persons, 707,760 people ; i acre for 100 persons, 884, 700
people; i acre for no persons, 973,170 people. It is, therefore, evident
that the farm is only suitable for broad irrigation for less than 1,000,000
people, for which population the rest of the scheme is being designed. The
estimated cost of the farm at Werribee is I285 per acre, including improve-
ments. The actual work of preparation is steadily proceeding. The pre-
paring and draining of the ground is being confined to the central block on
the farm, which will provide for the requirements of several of the suburban
towns. The drainage from other suburban towns will be begun as soon as

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the river tunnel is completed, probably about October next, and thus one by
one the different cities and towns will be dealt with till the system is com-
plete. The farm is rented to tenants, who raise market produce and vege-
tables, and it is desirable that as many tenants as possible should be established
on the farm. The work to be carried out by the board at the farm during
the next two years will consist of —

(i) The completion of the main carriers and subcarriers through the cen-
tral portion of the farm.

(2) The continuous preparation of the 20-acre blocks, which will be sown
with permanent grasses, chiefly lucern and prairie grass.

(3) Erection of a jetty in Port Philip Bay and the provision of the neces-
sary tramway plant for the farm.

As soon as sewage can be discharged on the 2,000 acres, lucern and
prairie grass can be grown on them, and if the board can obtain I30 per acre
per annum for them it will be in a splendid financial condition.

The total area to which sewerage is to be applied under the act covers
85,502 acres; but the net area available for population is only 77,933 acres,
and this latter area can be sewered when the population demands it. The
area which could be covered by sewers, viz, 32,484 acres, does not amount
to more than 43 per cent of the area available for population, while the area
which should be covered at as early a date as possible amounts to only 21,-
163 acres.

The valuations of property in Melbourne have altered so during the past
few years that it is extremely difficult to establish a rate. The valuations
for the year 1895-96 are below those for 1886-87. Unfortunately, during
the period of inflated values, the water rate was decreased from 8d. (16 cents)
in the pound to 6d. (12 cents) and by the board's act. No matter how the
values may fall, this rate can not be altered. As the water rate can not be
varied, the whole variation must take place in the sewerage rate. The re-
duction during the past twelve months in the value of real estate has been
^^857, 000 ($4,170,590), but it seems scarcely conceivable that any further
great reduction will take place, though it is possible in the great reaction
from excessive valuations. During the year 1896-97, if the water revenue
does not sink below ^^147, 000 ($715,373) and another loan of ^500,000
($2,433,250) be floated, the sum to be provided for by rates will be ;^95,-
000 ($462,317), by which time the sewerage expenditure will have reached
;;^2, 300,000 ($11,192,950), or nearly sufficient to provide for the twelve
central municipalities. No rate had been necessary up to June, 1895, when
;£i, 300,000 ($6,326,450) had been expended on sewerage, the surplus rev-
enue from water having met the interest, management, and maintenance
charges. At the present time, however, the sewerage expenditure has been

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of Commerce and Labor United States. Bureau of Foreign CommerceConsular reports, Issues 196-199 → online text (page 18 of 82)