More than a decade after taking their first tentative steps into crafting white wines from the Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale stalwart Wirra Wirra has taken a major leap into cool-climate red wine territory with the acquisition of renowned pinot noir producer, Ashton Hills.
Ashton Hills was founded by Stephen George in 1982 and since that time the decorated winemaker has built a reputation as one of Australia’s finest proponents of pinot noir, drawn from his three hectare, dry grown vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley.
Wirra Wirra Managing Director Andrew Kay announced the acquisition today and said the purchase was a logical expansion for the winery, which was founded in McLaren Vale back in 1894.
“We first made white wines from Adelaide Hills fruit back in 2003 when Greg Trott saw the potential of the cool-climate region, but the red wine opportunity has eluded us until now.
The chance to build upon the legacy of Stephen’s work was too good to pass up and for it to happen not only with his blessing, but also his ongoing contribution, is incredibly satisfying for us,” said Kay.
Kay said George had a definite role to play with the brand in the future.
“Stephen will continue to reside at his home at the winery and he is keen to mentor our wine-making team in the intricacies of pinot making “Ashton Hills style”, as well as be involved in a hands-on capacity in the vineyard.”
As for Stephen George, he feels very comfortable handing the reins over to Wirra Wirra.
“I feel a definite rapport with their people and having seen how respectfully and successfully they have managed their business in the wake of Greg Trott’s passing, I believe the legacy of Ashton Hills is in safe and sensitive hands,” said George.
“In fact, I’m looking forward to helping them work through a long list of opportunities that I have compiled over the years, that lack of time and resources have prevented me from undertaking as a “one man band”.”
Kay said Wirra Wirra would continue to make its own Adelaide Hills range of white wines, but did not rule out an expanded offering under the Ashton Hills label.
“Wirra Wirra was named most successful exhibitor at last year’s Adelaide Hills Wine Show, with all our wines performing well and our Lost Watch Riesling scoring a Trophy, so it makes good sense for those to continue,” he said.
“Ashton Hills is obviously the benchmark for pinot noir, but also produces an exceptional riesling and wonderful sparkling, so we will see where they can take us and what opportunities this presents, however for now it’s business as usual,” Kay said.
“We’ve spent the last decade fulfilling Trott’s dreams and visions and I hope we can do the same in the future for Stephen and Ashton Hills.”