Wirra Wirra scoops up Ashton Hills
In a move that a part of me is envious of, McLaren Vale’s Wirra Wirra winery announced today that they have purchased iconic Adelaide Hills estate Ashton Hills.
Ashton Hills has been on the market for a short time, after owner Stephen George decided that now would be take a step back from the business.
Wirra Wirra thus pounced in what many would see as a deft, if bold, move for a McLaren Vale winery to take over what is a small boutique vineyard and winery.
The deal is further sweetened by the promise that Stephen George will continue to be involved with a hands-on role in the vineyard, whilst also offering to show how to make Pinot Noir ‘Ashton Hills style’.
Given that Wirra Wirra were the most successful exhibitor at the recent Adelaide Hills wine show, it’s not really that surprising that they might be expanding their Hills holdings.
At this stage Ashton Hills will continue to operate as a seperate brand for the foreseeable future. Andrew Kay, Wirra Wirra MD, in the press release says that ‘Ashton Hill is obviously the benchmark for Pinot Noir, but also produces an exceptional Riesling and wonderful sparkling, so we will see where they can take us and what opportunities this presents, however for now it’s business as usual’. Kay said. ‘We’ve spent the last decade fulfilling Trott’sdreams and visions and I hope we can do the same in the future for Stephen and Ashton Hills’.
That last bit is important, as Stephen apparently feels comfortable handing over the reigns to Wirra, as he ‘believes the legacy of Ashton Hills is in safe and sensitive hands’.
Personally, I can understand exactly why you’d buy Ashton Hills – it’s a beautiful, mature, perfectly sited vineyard in one of the best places to grow grapes in Australia, Adelaide Hill’s Piccadilly Valley. The only question for Wirra is how they handle the transition and the brand into the future – would you continue to keep it as a stand-alone operation? Further, why make the wines in the (tiny) onsite winery, when you’ve got the Wirra winery just 50kms down the road?
Time will tell, but for the moment I must say that this is an excellent pickup for Wirra Wirra.