In 1852, Joseph Osborn was born in Cornwall, thereafter emigrating to South Australia with his parents. In 1881, he began working for Thomas Hardy Limited, a wine merchant, despite being a teetotaller. Due to a secret endeavour racing horses under a fake name, Joseph was able to amass a small fortune, and in 1912 he planted eight acres of shiraz vines at his property. His son, Frank, returned to the land after failing to obtain a medical degree due to ill health, and Joseph sold his horses in order to purchase a property in McLaren Vale, named Bundarra. Frank married Helena d’Arenberg in 1920, and he was encouraged to build a winery in order to use the grapes to make their own wine, and Frank thus learnt all about winemaking. Frank’s first vintage included a red table wine and a port, both of which were exported due to the higher prices obtained. Frank’s son Francis, known as d’Arry, took over the business when his father became too ill to crush the grapes, and in 1959 he started his own label, d’Arenberg. Chester Osborn, a fourth generation family member and d’Arry’s son, took over as chief winemaker in 1984, after studying in South Australia and embarking on a wine tour of Europe.
The range of d’Arenberg is as diverse as their story is long, with more than 60 wines produced, from a premium Extra Rare tawny port to a cheap and easy-drinking shiraz. The wines are made from a large number of estate and leased vineyards, with all of them certified for organic and biodynamic processes. While a large number of the wines are made from shiraz (a specialty of the McLaren Vale region), many other grapes are used, such as cabernet sauvignon, grenache, pinot noir, cinsault, riesling and chardonnay. Each wine features a name with a story, such as Stump Jump (a type of plough), The Dead Arm (a fungal disease affecting grape vines), and the mouthful, The Athazagoraphobic Cat (who was afraid of being forgotten). If you’re lucky enough to get to McLaren Vale, the winery now features the d’Arenberg Cube, a five-storey, cube-shaped building featuring a sensory room, virtual fermenter and a 360-degree video room. In the meantime however, you can enjoy many of their splendid drops.For further information on d’Arenberg, their history and wines, go to their website.