Quirky McLaren Vale winery d’Arenberg marks 100 years of family ownership this year, and, as reported on the drinks business, chief winemaker Chester Osborn is keen to take the centenary celebrations around the world. “We’ll be hosting dinners and parties all over the world. We want to involve as many people as possible, we can’t think of a better excuse to have a party,” he said. The celebrations kicked off last week with a party hosted by the company’s 84-year-old managing director, d’Arry Osborn (left).
Chester has released a celebratory fizz called Dadd, made of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, to mark the centenary. Though milestone is worth making a noise about, Osborn, who is currently nursing a torn Achilles tendon, believes it represents a moment in a much longer journey. "I'm just the custodian at this time, preparing to pass it on," he said.
Established in April 1912 by teetotaler and racehorse owner Joseph Osborn, four generations of the Osborn family have worked the property and shaped the family business into its current form. d’Arry took over from his father in 1943 aged 16. During his tenure, he initiated the red stripe on the labels and championed Grenache. “Things were very different in those days. We worked with horses as we didn’t have a tractor. The winemaking was also a lot more agricultural,” he said.
d’Arry handed over the reins to his son, Chester, in 1983 after he graduated. At the helm, Chester’s main aim has been driving a focus on premium wines, while maintaining the techniques used by his ancestors. d’Arenberg now exports to over sixty countries and has become one of Australia’s best-known wine brands, its wines easily recognised by their diagonal red stripe and eccentric names, like The Stump Jump, Dead Arm, Hermit Crab, Love Grass and Laughing Magpie.
Osborn believes the quirky names keep the d'Arenberg brand fresh. "My father stopped saying “no more labels” about 20 years ago when he realised they increased our story," he said. The winery plans to release a number of new labels this summer, including a single vineyard Shiraz and a rosé called Stephanie the Gnome, taking its total count up to 60.