A Brave New World: McGuigan Wines

Mark DeWolf

Australian vintners are accustomed to charting new courses. Australians having been planting grapes since the first settlers landed near Sydney in 1788. While the unforgiving — at least in terms of viticulture — climate of Sydney was a challenge for early Australia viticulturists, the industry did eventually develop when the industrious James Busby planted grapes further inland, in the hot but comparably drier Hunter Valley. By the 1850s, a small industry had developed particularly in the Hunter Valley (NSW) all the way west to South Australia’s Eden Valley.

The McGuigan family’s love of wine began in the late 19th century in the Hunter Valley. It’s here, Owen McGuigan, made his home and began working the vineyards to supplement his dairy farm income. It’s these early beginnings that laid the groundwork for what is now one of the country’s largest wineries — the McGuigan family of wines (the parent company is Australian Vintage Limited) which also now includes Nepenthe and Tempest Two, amongst other brands. While it was Owen that began the family’s wine traditions, it was his son Perc that, thanks to his time spent working in the wine industry during the 1930s, 40s and 1950s, would be recognized as a legend of the Hunter Valley.

Carrying on his spirt and legacy was Brian McGuigan, who set about forging a new style of Hunter Valley wine. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, Brian McGuigan, along with industry contemporaries, were part of the changing face of Australian wine. The industry, which prior to the 1960s was known for its rough and rustic fortified wines, was being transformed into an industry based on new technologies and drier wine styles abounding in fruit flavours. This new fruit forward style of wine has become the signature of New World wines across the globe. The era also ushered in a new way of how wineries interacted with consumers.

Brian McGuigan was well-known for welcoming input from the people that drank his wine. In recognition of his contributions to the industry, Brian, like his father before him, would eventually be honoured with the title of Hunter Valley Living Legend.

McGuigan Wines was found in 1992 by Brian McGuigan, and would later (2002) merge with Simeon wines to create Australia’s 4th largest wine group — McGuigan Simeon. The name of the parent company would later change to Australian Vintage Limited in 2008, but the McGuigan family is still charge. Neil McGuigan, holds down the title of Chief Winemaker and is responsible for the winery continuing to push new innovations forward and chart new courses and destinations, which includes producing wines from various wine regions in Australia, such as the Barossa Valley, McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Yarra Valley and many others.

Information about the Festival of Wines can be found at mynslc.com.

Next Week

We offer suggestions for New World wines to appeal to Old World wine lovers, and vice-versa.

Occasions Recommends

  • McGuigan Bin 2000 Shiraz, Australia $14.99
  • McGuigan Black Label Shiraz, Australia $10.99
  • McGuigan Label Pinot Grigio, Australia $10.99
Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on Twitter0Share on Google+0Pin on Pinterest0