In 1847, the 37-year-old brewer Samuel Smith and his wife Mary along with their four children left their English homeland to start afresh in Australia. The family eventually settled in Angaston, Barossa, where Samuel Smith purchased a little over 12 hectares of Eden Valley land in 1849. He called his estate “Yalumba”, the aboriginal word for “the land that surrounds us”.
He planted the first vines with his son Sidney and thus laid the foundation for the oldest Australian family-owned wine business. With Robert Hill-Smith, the fifth generation is now running Yalumba. The company now consists of 560 hectares of carefully selected vineyard area in famous Australian wine regions. “Yalumba seeks not only to leave a legacy of great wine, but to also pass on to future generations our natural resources in better condition than when we inherited them,” states Robert Hill-Smith.
These are not empty words. Yalumba sculpted their “Vitis” programme, which monitors and supports sustainability in winegrowing. Also the wine company was the first in Australia to be distinguished for its greenhouse gasreducing initiatives. In 2005, Yalumba also started producing organic wines: a Chardonnay, a Shiraz, and a Viognier. The Viognier has a special place in the company’s portfolio of wine varieties. On a trip to the Rhône, Yalumba director Peter Wall discovered this historic, exciting (and not easy to cultivate) white wine from the South of France.
In 1980, 1.2 hectares were planted with the first Viognier vines in the Barossa. Today, the company owns 30 hectares of Viognier vines in two different Australian localities; once again, also pioneering clonal work in the Southern hemisphere! Louisa Rose, the company’s winemaker, is the individual mainly responsible for the complexity and sophistication of Yalumba Viognier. After completing her oenology studies with high marks, she started working for Yalumba in 1993. As the creative head, she appreciates the possibilities an independent company offers: “We have the freedom to play with new wine styles because we are creating our own future.”
It is very likely that Louisa Rose will join the long list of Yalumba employees who have been working for the company for more than 21 years. They are proudly named on signs posted at the entrance to the company’s winery in Angaston under the nice heading „VSOP – Very Special Old People“. To preserve the best and to develop sustainability – that is what Yalumba stands for.