Yalumba vows another 165 years of growth
Yalumba Proprietor Robert Hill-Smith has vowed his winery will remain independent, innovative and forward thinking as it celebrates its 165th birthday today (Monday 17 November). Hill-Smith, 63, who co-owns the fifth-generation Barossa winery with his brother Sam, has been at the helm for 29 years and has been heavily involved in the industry during that time. Hill-Smith currently sits on the board of the Winemakers Federation of Australia and will shortly become chairman of Australian First Families of Wine.
“For some time now I have reinforced widely the view that the wine business as we knew it has changed forever,” he said. “It is a time for intelligent perseverance, innovation, ideas creation and discipline to generate growth.” “Whilst we believe 46 wineries are currently for sale, and notable sales and closures are in the news, we continue to invest in new vineyards and plantings, winery improvements in bottling and logistics, leadership training and up skilling.”
Yalumba was founded in 1849 by Hill-Smith’s great great-grandfather Samuel Smith, a brewer who immigrated to South Australia from Dorset with his family two years prior. While working as a gardener and horticulturalist for the prominent Angas family, after whom Angaston was named, Samuel and his son Sidney planted their first vines in 1849. In 1852 Samuel joined the masses flocking to Victoria during the gold rush, returning with ₤300 worth of gold, which allowed him to purchase 80 acres in 1852 and a further 12 acres in 1853.
Yalumba has remained family owned throughout its lifetime, with Robert & Sam Hill-Smith undertaking a complete buy-out of other family shareholders in 1989. Key milestones made by the Hill Smith family in that time have included:
- Yalumba focus on the “Great Australian Red” blend of Cabernet Sauvignon & Shiraz
- Pioneering work with the exotic Rhone varietal Viognier from 1979 to present
- Establishment of the Yalumba Nursery in 1979 – a specialist varietal, clonal, and rootstock provider to Australian wine growers
- Vineyard investments in Tasmania in 1998 & 2012 and New Zealand in the mid-1980s
- Development of the Oxford Landing Estate vineyard near Waikerie in 1958 and insightful plantings of Chardonnay in the 1980s
“In many ways today marks another challenging journey beginning all over again,” Hill-Smith said. “I am confident we shall prevail.”