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The Oatley Wines story is of the legendary Oatley family themselves, supported by an outstanding group of extended family and friends
The Oatleys have played an important part in the Australian wine industry since their first vintage at Rosemount Estate in 1974. Those wines were the predecessors of many hundreds of highly awarded and recognised bottlings of fine Australian wine under the Oatley family direction. With the 2001 merger of Rosemount to Southcorp Wines and the subsequent sale of Southcorp to Foster’s in 2005, the Oatleys decided to re-enter the wine business. Logically they followed their calling back to the vineyard and established Oatley Wines, quickly gathering a team of extended family and friends to do the job.
Situated on the western slopes of the Great Dividing Range in central western New South Wales, Mudgee is one of Australia’s leading and burgeoning premium wine growing regions. At around three and a half hours drive (261kms) north west of Sydney, Mudgee is the home to over 40 cellar doors and 16 operational wineries at an elevation range of 450-1080m in altitude with the vineyards mostly found between 450-650m. At the 2006 NSW Wine Awards, the trophies for Best Young Dry Red and Mature Dry Red were both awarded to Mudgee Shiraz.
The Oatley family’s Australian history dates back to 1815 when Bob’s grandfather, a talented clockmaker, settled in Sydney. The southern suburb of Oatley was named after him in the 1880s. Mudgee was settled in 1822, Craigmoor Winery established in 1858 and the first vines planted at Rosemount in 1864. During the 1860s to 1870s gold was discovered in and around Mudgee, and wine production boomed until the financial crash of the 1890s. By the 1960s there were just two surviving wineries in Mudgee, yet Bob Oatley had begun planting grapes and buying vineyards nearby at Denman. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mudgee is now the vinous home and heart of the Oatley family. Their experiences with the region date back to the 1970s, and they bought their first vineyard, Mountain Blue in the 1990s. The wine from that vineyard was such a success they embarked on an acquisition program that despite some sales, now counts seven distinctly different vineyards in the region. Reflective of the region’s current success, the Oatleys believe that Mudgee has excellent, somewhat untapped potential for chardonnay, shiraz, cabernet and merlot, along with a handful of interesting Italian varietals.
Mudgee is famous for full-bodied reds and fine chardonnay, with some of the country’s earliest plantings at Craigmoor. The Oatleys have been growing grapes here for over thirty years and now own seven distinct vineyard sites making the family the largest grape grower in the region. To the Mudgee properties already owned by Bob, Sandy and Ian, they added the Montrose and Craigmoor properties where they now make and sell Oatley Wines. The Montrose winery put Italian varietals such as sangiovese on the map when Carlo Corino planted Australia’s first cuttings in the 1960s.
The estate's first label is Robert Oatley, named for the company chairman and representing the best made each year; and Wild Oats, named after Bob’s madly successful super maxi yacht Wild Oats XI. The underlying philosophy has been to find the right vineyard with the right soil and match it to the right variety – no matter where that vineyard may happen to be. From humble beginnings in the Hunter Valley, the Oatleys went on to own and develop vineyards in many of Australia’s top regions including Orange, Heathcote, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra.
The Oatleys purchased the neighbouring Montrose Winery from Pernod Ricard in late 2006. Built in 1974 by the Transfield Group it initially had a capacity of 2,000 tonnes. Today it can handle 12,000 tonnes and store some 8.7 million litres of wine. Full time staff tend to the Oatley’s new wine ranges, and fuss over some 2000 premium French and American oak hogsheads and puncheons. Today, the Oatley family is Mudgee’s largest grower and producer of wine. They are as committed to re-establishing themselves in the wine business as they are to supporting the Mudgee region as a whole.
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