Orlando Wyndham

Orlando Wyndham

One of Australia's giant wine companies, Orlando Wyndham is a fully owned subsidiary of Groupe Pernod Ricard. Its greatest asset is Jacob's Creek, Australia's principal export brand, which achieved sales of more than 3.5 million cases in 1999. The brand accounts for more than 20 percent of Australian table wine exports and is the single largest selling Australian bottled wine in the UK, Ireland, Norway, Japan, Singapore and New Zealand.

Orlando Wyndham's approach to growth contrasts dramatically with that of Mildara Blass, Southcorp and BRL Hardy. Its best-known wines tend to be its less expensive ones, and it is focused on growth of its existing brands rather than on acquiring other brands or establishing new labels. Its relatively small number of brands and their scale reflects a distinctive and long-term philosophy, no doubt encouraged by its French parent.


Orlando Wyndham's main production facility, at its original birthplace, Rowland Flat, in the Barossa Valley, is the company's center for white and sparkling wine production and final blending and packaging. Its second Barossa winery, Richmond Grove, has been converted into a large but specialist red wine cellar, although very fine rieslings are still produced there under the guidance of legendary winemaker John Vickery.

At Mudgee in New South Wales, the former Montrose winery has been refurbished as Orlando Wyndham Mudgee, while the Craigmoor winery has become the cellar door of the revamped Poet's Corner brand. Wyndham Estate remains the company's base in the Hunter Valley, and its other major New South Wales winery is Wickham Hill in the Riverlands.

The enduring exception in the company's collection of large production facilities is the historic Morris winery in Rutherglen, in northeast Victoria, where David Morris has been wisely left to practice his trade in much the same way that others in his family did before him.
Current vineyard holdings are around 4,800 acres (1,940 ha), mostly in South Australia, with the majority at Langhorne Creek, Padthaway and Coonawarra. Like most other large owners at Padthaway, Orlando Wyndham has reworked its plantings there, converting them from bag-in-the-box standard to a level consistent with its Saints range. With only 500 acres (200 ha) evenly divided between the Barossa floor and the Eden Valley, Orlando is not a substantial land owner at its winemaking headquarters.


Orlando Wyndham dates back to the small vineyard planted at Jacob's Creek in 1847 by Johann Gramp, a Bavarian immigrant who sent to Germany for the cuttings. The first vintage of 50 gallons (180 l) from this, the Barossa Valley's first vineyard, was in 1850. The company became G. Gramp and Sons Ltd in 1912, and the Orlando trademark was introduced that year. Growth was strong and steady until the onset of the 1930s depression.

In the early 1950s, managing director Colin Gramp introduced the German technique of using pressure tanks for fermentation to control the escape of carbon dioxide, slowing the rate of fermentation, to produce livelier, fresher and more aromatic white wines. Gramp's 1953 vintage was a remarkable wine that revolutionised white winemaking in Australia and initiated the now famous Orlando Special Vintage Barossa Riesling series. Orlando's second success story of the 1950s was Barossa Pearl, Australia's first naturally sweetened and effervescent wine, which was released in late 1956. It was as affordable as it was approachable and, although it would be viewed in a rather different light today, it introduced multitudes of Australians to wine.

In late 1970, the Gramp family sold out to Reckitt and Coleman, which had also purchased Morris Wines in Rutherglen and the Wickham Hill winery at Griffith in same year. Eighteen years later, Orlando was sold to a group of its directors, and Pernod Ricard obtained majority ownership in May 1989. By January 1990, Pernod Ricard had added the publicly listed Wyndham Group to its stable, and Orlando Wyndham was established.

Wyndham Estate dates back to the 1830s, when Hunter Valley pioneer George Wyndham founded the Dalwood vineyard which, after a period of ownership by Penfolds, was sold to its cellarmaster Perc McGuigan in the early 1960s. The McGuigans expanded rapidly in the 1970s and, by the time Pernod Ricard bought the company, Wyndham owned a number of successful brands and wineries, including Richmond Grove, Morris, Montrose and Craigmoor.

The very export-orientated Orlando Wyndham offers exceptional consistency and value in most of its labels, especially Orlando, Richmond Grove, Craigmoor and Montrose. The company is strongly entrenched in the UK, the USA and in several Asian and European markets. A valid criticism of Orlando Wyndham is that it has largely ignored its Barossa heritage and has only recently reintroduced a small number of exclusively Barossa wines. Similarly, the company's portfolio hasn't exactly been strong on Hunter Valley wine.


Key Wines

Synonymous with Orlando Wyndham, the Jacob's Creek label was introduced in 1976 with a 1973 blend of shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and malbec from Padthaway, Coonawarra and McLaren Vale. Its quality has remained consistent and its value unquestioned, especially the red blend and the Riesling. The excellent Saints range of Orlando wines was introduced in 1983 with the first-rate 1980 St Hugo Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon. It has been joined by the St Helga Riesling and St Hilary Chardonnay, which have always offered fine varietal expression and value.

Montrose has been making true-to-style expres-sions of red Italian varieties from its mature vineyard at Mudgee, and creating some excellent wines. Richmond Grove, originally developed as an Upper Hunter Valley label by the entrepre-neurial Mark Cashmore, has relocated to the Barossa Valley, becoming a national brand in the process, and even encompassing a New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Its Barossa and Watervale rieslings, made in the traditional John Vickery style, are exceptional wines.
Orlando Wyndham's style reflects the long-term European approach of its parent, but that's not to suggest that it isn't moving quickly. Its ambition is to export more than five million cases around the world each year by 2003.

From "Encyclopedia of Wine"
Global Book Publishing Pty Limited 2000