Chester Osborn is quite a character.
If you saw him in the corner of a pub with his long curly hair and his snakeskin jacket you might say there is the star of some eighties rock band. Can’t quite remember the group but he must have done well, he looks happy and well fed.
If he then turned to you with a bottle covered in medals in one hand, a glass swirling with good wine in the other and, without pauses, talked passionately about the soil, the vines, the growing season, the winemaking and maturation techniques, the aromas and flavours down to the last detail, you might think you have the wrong man.
Undoubtedly Chester likes his music but he is in fact the fourth generation of a winemaking family made famous by, and adding fame to, the McLaren Vale region of South Australia.
D’Arenberg with the red striped labels is a name much loved by those who know this district and its wines.
In 1912 Joseph Osborn, then a director for Thomas Hardy and Sons, sold his stable of prized horses to buy the land that now holds the vineyards and winery in the gentle hills south of Adelaide. His son Frank joined him and in 1959 his son Francis, known as d’Arry, introduced the d’Arenberg name in honour of his mother and the red stripe from his alma mater Prince Alfred College.
His son, Chester took over as chief winemaker in 1984.
Today he produces a luscious range of reds, mainly from the traditional varieties the district in renowned for: shiraz, grenache, cabernet, and some less well known tempranillo, and sangiovese.
There is a very wide range of singles and blends with fabulously imaginative names. The explanations on the back labels are nearly as much fun as sharing a glass with Chester.
For his most elegant whites he brings in grapes from the high altitude Adelaide Hills, but also make some very respectable riesling and chardonnay from the home blocks. He makes sparkling wines and he makes magnificent fortified wines with lovely labels based on original artwork highlighted by the red stripe.
A busy man.
But wait, there’s more.
For some ten years he has been thinking about a landmark building among his grapevines. Something that reflects his family’s philosophy. The five-storey multi purpose structure containing tasting rooms, bars, restaurant and offices is now under construction with daily pictures being uploaded so he can share its progress with the world. Chester thinks winemaking is all about solving a series of interconnecting problems until you have the perfect result. He has called his icon The Cube and, appearing to float among the rows of mourvedre vines, it will be a tourist magnet for this delightful part of the world.
Have a preview of d’Arenberg’s many faceted wines and watch The Cube as it grows at www.darenberg.com.au