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Oxford Landing Estate celebrates 50 years
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Established in 1958 ‘OLE’ is one of the treasured vineyards of the Hill Smith family of Angaston, with an innovative and colourful history that includes vast vineyard sustainability practices and success in taking Australian wine to the international market.
Wyndham Hill Smith stood in the centre of a 500 acre plot of land on the edge of the magnificent “serpentine’ Murray River, in the Riverland region of South Australia. With dig stick in hand he walked the block, surveying and testing for soil depth and quality. Access to and availability of water was the single decisive factor in purchasing this land for vineyard development. He was also on the verge of selecting a site extremely well drained; relatively frost free and removed from any hail belts – all of which are crucial elements in sustaining the success of Oxford Landing as a vineyard, and an Australian icon.
Today, Oxford Landing Estate continues to evolve. We are reminded of the Hill Smith family’s on-going vision for this important Estate with the appointment in July 2007 of Martin Strachan, General Manager Oxford Landing. This noted placement will ensure the steady growth this brand has experienced to date will build momentum for these outstanding wines in their category.
“With strong distribution through all channels of trade, and when discussing the brand with buyers, press, restaurateurs and consumers, ‘value’ is the overwhelming comment – our clear goal is to deliver the best wines in the market within our competitive set, reflecting conditions of vintage and true varietal style”, says Martin.
Earlier, in 2008, we were reminded again of the family’s commitment to producing quality wines which reflect a true sense of place when winemaker Matthew Pick commenced with the Estate, alongside vineyard manager and regional viticulturist, Robert ‘Fred’ Strachan.
Matthew joined Oxford Landing at the beginning of the 2008 harvest, managing the entire winemaking operation from the vineyard in the Riverland to the Oxford Landing Winery, situated in Barossa. This Oxford Landing Winery was purpose built with a keen eye on sustainable winemaking where control is had over the whole winemaking process.
“Our approach to the vineyard and winemaking is similar to what others do for more expensive wines” says Matt. “Treating each block as an individual parcel, spending time in the vineyard to ensure we pick when the flavours are at their peak, and attention to detail through every step of the winemaking process is the secret to all good winemaking.”
Fred Strachan and his team drive the sustainable management of the vineyard, using many ‘small vineyard’ techniques that are more common in a boutique winery, such as detailed pruning, canopy management and crop thinning, for improved flavour intensity. This detailed vine husbandry enables the creation of micro-climates within the blocks suited to each of the different grape variety’s needs. Fred’s connection with Oxford Landing is one of respect.
“Seriously, it is about growing good grapes, as simplistically as that sounds. The plants will always tell you what they want – it just depends if you are paying enough attention.”
Today the Oxford Landing vineyard resource allows the Hill Smith family to trial many varieties, and they will continue to develop the vineyard with long term, sustainable viticulture practices, while delivering best value to the wine drinking market.