Monte Christo

Dessert Cafe and Gardens

The History

Monte Christo was originally settled by Jean Desire Feraud, a native of France; possibly the Burgundy region, in 1863.

Feraud leased between 75 and 100 acres of land roughly 2 miles (the unit of the time) from the Clyde township in 1864. Once the land was acquired he and a business partner they travelled to Australia to purchase plants and cuttings to venture into horticulture. By the time the property went up for sale in 1871 the orchard garden included (but was not limited to) 1200 grape vines, half an acre of strawberries and 4000 berry bushes of all varieties including gooseberries, red and black currants and of course raspberry canes.

Feraud is said to have sold raspberry vinegar, ginger wine, aniseed liquor, cherry brandy and all manner of other beverages as well as the fruit and vegetables that were growing on the large property.

In October of 1889 ownership of Monte Christo passed to the Bodkin family whose decendants still live in Clyde today. It was to remain in the family's hands for 70 years before being subdivided and sold in lots.

About Jean Desire Feraud

Some descriptionJean Desire Feraud was the first mayor of Clyde. This in itself was an achievement but it is not that for which he is best remembered. His vineyard at Monte Christo was the first to produce wines on a commercial basis in Central Otago. This was back in the nineteenth century, in the period 1864 — 1882.

The Old Winery

The building which he used for his winery still stands, but it has suffered a few changes over the years since 1864. when it was built. At one time it was in danger of being destroyed but fortunately it survived and now, thanks to the efforts of Blair and Pip Pedofsky it is in fine shape and looks fit to survive another hundred years and more.

The photograph taken in 1893 gives an idea of the building as it was in its prime. Grapes can be seen growing against the stone walls and these have been propagated to the present day. It ¡s almost certain that the vines shown here were a variety of dessert grape. but it is just possible that Feraud made wine from them as well. There is a considerable contrast between the appearance of the barn as it was in 1997, with its present state in 2001. Much credit is due to the Pedofsky family for restoring this fine old structure to its current dignity.

The legend of Feraud’s Wine Cave

It was not just a building that Feraud left to us however. There is a legend circulating in the district that he had an underground wine cellar somewhere near to the winery. 1f this is so, then it has defied all attempts to uncover it. Some local residents have searched with various devices, including metal detectors and tuning forks, to assist them. Tragically, one person. then an owner of part of old Monte Christo, suffered a fita1 accident when he was operating a digger at a site where he had calculated the cellar would be located. Later efforts to further explore the site failed to find any sign of the mysterious cellar. I personally believe the story to be complete fantasy. My brother and I spent our childhood living on Monte Christo. 1f there had been a secret cellar, I am certain we would have found it. However, the story persists.

Grapes from the Past

The vines propagated from originals growing against Feraud’s winery have in 2001 produced many fine bunches of fat purple grapes. For the first time in more than 120 years wine is being made from Feraud’s grapes.

Historical information reproduced by permission of original author, Bill Bodkin