O’Leary Walker Wines are handcrafted by David O’Leary and Nick Walker in conjunction with a talented young winemaking team. All of our wines are purpose made from individual vineyards, carefully selected from specific regions to produce wine of great quality to reflect their true origin.
Vineyard site selection is critical and is the lynchpin to producing wines with depth, character and regional personality.
Clare Valley Rieslings are world class and their international reputation has been earned through consistency of quality over many decades. The cooler elevated slopes of the Adelaide Hills produce outstanding Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blancs. The O’Leary’s, along with Petaluma and Geoff Weaver, were the first to recognise the potential of this now blossoming region.
David and Nick spent twenty plus vintages working for some of Australia’s elite winemaking companies in Hardy’s and Mildara Blass, involved in labels like Annies Lane, Chateau Reynella, Mildara, Krondorf and Yellowglen.
The larger companies provide fantastic learning environments and they were privileged to have worked with some of the industry’s greats. David and Nick have always been fascinated by the influence of oak and the variation between cooperages. O’Leary Walker Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are exclusively matured in French oak from famous oak houses like Siruge and Daraud and Jaugle.
With our Shiraz and Cabernets we also adopt the 100% French theme as the integration of fruit and oak elegance is conducive to our style of wine.
We embrace modern technology with the use of tank presses for white and red pressing but still rely on the traditional two and four Tonne open fementers. These vessels are ideal for closely following the progress of fermentation and assessing the quality of fruit received. Gentle hand plunging and control of temperature allows you to maximise the colour and flavour extraction.
Many of our Watervale Vineyards are “dry grown” and are self regulating, which means they are in balance with nature, producing modest crops of high quality and ensuring survival throughout seasonal variations.
Every vintage gives us the opportunity to experiment with new technologies, which have given rise to more European styles like our “Fully Worked Sauvignon” and “Dr’s Cut Riesling”. The winemaking process is very dynamic; the way we make wine today is different to how it was crafted 30 years ago and will continue to evolve again over the next 30 years.
David graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1980. David began his career in 1977-1978 with the Stanley Wine Company in the Clare Valley, doing a vintage as lab assistant under Brian Barry. It was at that time that David was introduced to Clare Valley Rieslings. David then spent a year with Petaluma and completed a vintage in Tasmania working for Heemskerk Wines before joining Chateau Reynella in 1981.
In September 1982 Thomas Hardy and Sons purchased Chateau Reynella and David was charged with managing juice separation in Padthaway thereby initiating the exhausting trend of two vintages a year between Waikerie and Padthaway.David was appointed group red winemaker for Hardy's in 1990 and held that role until joining Mildara Blass in 1994.
At Mildara Blass, he held senior winemaking roles at Quelltaller Estate in the Clare Valley where he launched Annie’s Lane and at the Mildara Coonawarra based Jamieson's Run winery. During his time with Hardy's and Mildara Blass, he also made wine in France and California.
David has achieved considerable milestones in his twenty years of making wine. A Jimmy Watson Trophy in 1988 and twice International Red Winemaker of The Year (1992 and 1994) sit proudly along with numerous other trophies and gold medals.
David's goals remain unchanged; he simply wants to make great wine.
Nick graduated from Roseworthy Agricultural College in 1982 and then followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather to become a third generation winemaker.
Nick's father Norm Walker was Managing Director at Seaview Champagne Cellars for over 22 years. Norm along with his father Hurtle have given over 100 years to the winemaking industry, in particular Sparkling wine. Nick Walker and David O'Leary honour this family winemaking tradition by naming the O'Leary Walker Sparkling, 'Hurtle' in recognition of Nick's grandfather and father's achievements.
In 1983 Nick joined the Burge & Wilson team at Krondorf Wines as an assistant winemaker. During this time Nick was instrumental in making some of the great Eden Valley Rieslings of the time and had enormous success on the show circuit with his wines.
Nick undertook sparkling winemaking duties in 1998/1999 at Yellowglen and was chief winemaker at Yarra Ridge in 2000. Nick spent over 14 years with the Mildara Blass group responsible for brands including Krondorf, Yellowglen Sparkling wines, Yarra Ridge, Baileys and St Huberts.
In November 1999, Nick joined forces with good friend David O'Leary to create O'Leary Walker Wines.
Nick's philosophy is pretty simple, make the best wines possible from the best vineyard sites, and leave a little time for fishing.