In 1877, Samuel McWilliam, an Irish immigrant, planted vines on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales. The property was called ‘Sunnyside’ and was neighboured next door to the Lindemans, who later became synonymous with Australian wine. Samuel learnt as much as he could from them, and he began making fortified wine from his vineyard. Years later, when the fortified industry was threatened by phylloxera, Samuel’s sons, James and Thomas, established new vineyards in Wagga to the north, while his three daughters, Eliza, Rose May and Mary, returned to Sunnyside and continued making wine, becoming some of Australia’s first female winemakers. Since that time, McWilliams have experience continued growth, and in 1990 they enacted the ‘Maurice O’Shea’ award, in honour of Australia’s greatest table wines. The winemaking team is headed by Jim Chatto, who had completed 20 vintages in the Hunter Valley before joining McWilliams in 2013. Jim’s philosophy is to make wines ‘of longevity, purity and freshness, true to their region and true to their site.’
McWilliam’s sources its fruit from four regions within New South Wales, with varying climates, from cool to hot and tropical, creating an immense variant of wines. The ‘On the Grapevine’ label offers a range of low-priced, easy-drinking wines. The ‘Tumbarumba Chardonnay’ is great value and one of their most popular drops, with flavours of white peach and nectarine. One of their most premium wines include the ‘1877 Hilltops Shiraz’ which derives fruit-driven aromas and an intense palate of red fruits, with a lingering aftertaste.