Busby, James

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

(1801–71), the so-called father of australian viticulture, although more recently the term prophet has been considered more appropriate. James Busby was born in Edinburgh and became interested in agriculture in Ireland, where his father managed estates. Before leaving Scotland for Australia, Busby became convinced that wine could be made in the colony and so spent several months studying viticulture and winemaking in France. This allowed him to write his first book, Treatise on the Culture of the Vine, on the five-month voyage on the Triton. At 24, therefore, Busby was already an author of a viticultural textbook, although at the time it was considered too scientific and lacking in simple directions. A land grant of 800 ha/1,980 acres was made to Busby on the Hunter River in new south wales in 1824, and the property was named Kirkton. Busby was initially employed to teach viticulture at the Male Orphan School near Liverpool, and to manage its 5,000-ha estate. Unfortunately the school was soon closed down, and in between several other posts Busby published in 1830 his second and much more successful book A Manual of Plain Directions for Planting and Cultivating Vineyards and for Making Wine in New South Wales. Busby, like others of his time, extolled the virtues of wine drinking compared with the then common excessive spirits consumption in the colony. His book contains the much quoted ‘The man who could sit under the shade of his own vine, with his wife and children about him, and the ripe clusters hanging within their reach, in such a climate as this, and not feel the highest enjoyment, is incapable of happiness and does not know what the word means.’