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Thursday 7 May 2015

Why Wirra Wirra decided to buy a tiny winery

McLaren Vale winery stalwart Wirra Wirra has taken a major leap into cool-climate red wine territory with the acquisition of renowned Adelaide Hills pinot noir producer Ashton Hills just before Easter.

Ashton Hills was founded by Stephen George in 1982 and built a reputation as one of Australia’s finest proponents of pinot noir, grown on a 3.5-hectare, unirrirgated vineyard in the Piccadilly Valley.

Wirra Wirra managing director Andrew Kay said the purchase was a logical expansion for his winery, which was founded in McLaren Vale back in 1894.
Wirra Wirra boss man Andrew Kay

We first made white wines from Adelaide Hills fruit back in 2003 when [Wirra Wirra founder] Greg Trott saw the potential of the cool-climate region, but the red wine opportunity has eluded us until now," said Kay. 

"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.” 

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.”

Stephen George said 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,” he said. 

“I believe the legacy of Ashton Hills is in safe and sensitive hands and 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.”

To say Ashton Hills has flown under the radar except for those in the know would be an understatement. The winery does not even have a website. 

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 is independently owned by members of the Trott family and private investors.

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