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The Elderton Wines Blog

Elderton Wines – Celebrating 40 Vintages

“At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.” – Benjamin Franklin

In 2021, the Ashmead family are celebrating 40 harvests from our coveted vineyard in the township of Nuriootpa. From very humble beginnings, Neil and Lorraine took a massive leap of faith to relocate their young family to the Barossa and to rescue the derelict old vineyard on their property, which is now the envy of the world. This vineyard has plantings dating back to 1894 and continues to produce great fruit 40 vintages on.

Allister Ashmead, Elderton Wines Co-Managing Director, said recently, “Forty vintages is a significant achievement for our family, and one which makes us immensely proud. To have weathered booms and busts, floods and droughts, significant weather events, as well as every other economic, political and fashion change that have been thrown at us as a family, and to still be as rejoiced and loved from our supporters brings great satisfaction.”

“I sometimes say that old vines are good because they are old, but they are also old because they are good. And when this is considered, I think we deserve to be able to say that our family winery is great because we are older, but also older because we are great!

In 1982 the first wine was made under the Elderton label. Tough times prevailed, but ultimately the vision of Neil and Lorraine shone through and Elderton is today celebrated as one of the reasons for the successful rejuvenation of the Barossa. In 1993 Elderton shot to national prominence after winning the Jimmy Watson Trophy. And it’s been a journey for the family ever since. Click here to see the timeline of Elderton Wines.


The Ashmead family – three generations at Elderton’s Cellar Door

The second generation

We are now celebrating forty vintages of Elderton Wines and the second generation of the Ashmead family are at the helm – brothers Cameron and Allister, with their wives Julie and Rebecca.

Cameron and Allister, who took the reins of the business in 2003, believe very strongly in continuing the traditions that began a generation earlier, on the Nuriootpa vineyard whilst growing a sustainable family business.

Jules took the newly created position of Head of Production, overseeing both viticulture and winemaking at Elderton in July 2019. She brings a wealth of experience to the business and is also the fifth generation winemaker at Campbells of Rutherglen. Rebecca is our Production and Export Logistics Manager.


Elderton Wines Barossa vineyards at Greenock, old vine Grenache

Old vine Grenache at our Greenock vineyard

Sustainable vineyards and winemaking

We are very proud custodians of the original Elderton estate in Nuriootpa, which grows the fruit for our icon wines: Command Shiraz and Ashmead Cabernet Sauvignon. And in recent years we have acquired two other significant sites around the Barossa, to further showcase the diverse regionality that exists within the appellation. These vineyards are at Greenock, on the western ridge of the Barossa Valley, and Craneford, in the Eden Valley.

Our winemaking team work very closely with our Vineyard Manager, Peter, and Viticulturist, Conrad, throughout the year, to produce quality fruit with a focus on long term sustainable production, low yields, low irrigation and minimal inputs.

Of how vintage 2021 is shaping up, Jules notes, “We are busily working through Elderton’s 40th vintage, with beautiful, clear days and cool nights – perfect autumnal weather. Our Greenock fruit is all in with the Helbig 1915 Shiraz in open topped puncheons for ferment and currently pressing to barrel our Neil Ashmead Grand Tourer Shiraz to finish ferment.”

We picked our first of the Ode to Lorraine components on 16 March and on 17 and 18 March we undertook a major part of our selected parcel hand-picking for Command Shiraz, which is looking great.”

We were also excited to have Brock Harrison join the Elderton team as Winemaker in August 2019. His philosophy on wine is simple, “you are only as good as your next wine”, which drives him to always strive for continuous improvement in everything we do.

Jules Ashmead, Brock Harrison and Allister Ashmead checking ferments during vintage

Our future

Elderton is a very different wine company when compared with the early days, however, the age-old edicts that good fruit comes from good vineyards, and look after your customers so they look after you have never changed.

Whilst turning 40 means it is time to reflect on how far we have come, it will also provide us ample opportunity to celebrate (with many parties planned), but more importantly to continue to work towards writing the chapters of our future. We are a proudly family owned and operated business, and we continue to build towards a future where the third generation of the Ashmead family will take Elderton to 50+ vintages.

Celebrate Elderton’s 40 vintages with us

For more details on our celebrations around the country, please visit our Upcoming Events page where we will share events as they are planned.

We hope you will be able to raise a glass with us this year!