Optimism and Innovation – 1950

Barossa Vintages - 1950s

Australia’s most famous winemaker, a pipe-smoking Penfolds blender Max Schubert packs his suitcase and travels to Bordeaux. He discovers the power and complexity of super-premium table wine, in particular the flavour of Cabernet Sauvignon matured in French oak casks, but when he returns the post-war shortage of these “luxuries”, leads him to make an experimental full-bodied Shiraz and mature it in American oak hogsheads. The 1951 Grange Hermitage is a unique new Australian style of red wine which will go on to chart the direction of this Antipodean wine nation for the next 60 years.  

Meanwhile  up in the chilly Barossa Ranges, Cyril Henschke makes the first single vineyard Mt Edelstone Shiraz in 1952 followed by Hill of Grace Shiraz in 1958. Then, after extensive overseas research into secondary pressure fermentation and cold stabilisation, Colin Gramp launches Orlando Barossa Pearl in 1956. The resounding success of this “wine for the masses” encourages many copies: Sparkling Rhinegolde, Pineapple Pearl, Starwine, Cold Duck, all of which make wine more accessible to the general public, in particular young women. Demographers later believe this is the real cause of the 1950s Baby Boom!

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