It takes an amazing amount of vision to look at a patch of sunburnt red soil and imagine a vineyard bursting with fruit. That’s exactly what the late Wyndham Hill-Smith did when he founded Oxford Landing in 1958.
Few things in life have the power to capture a sense of place and community like wine. As places go, Oxford Landing is something special. No wonder he was smitten. It’s a location you don’t forget (or leave) in a hurry. Just ask the locals. The gobsmacking River Murray winds its way through the rugged rural landscape, rippling with life and promise. A sense of community is the heart of the South Australian region and the river is the lifeblood that keeps it flowing.
Wyndham (or Wyndy as he was known to mates) was a winemaker for Yalumba and a visionary. He and viticulturist Norman Hanckel searched long and hard to find the perfect patch of land on which to plant a vineyard. United by a love of painting, they travelled the sunburnt land in Wyndy’s Buick, capturing what they saw; brushstroke by brushstroke. Oh, what a palette Mother Nature provided; vivid red soil, clear blue skies, multi-coloured native birds, towering gum trees, and sunlight dancing on the river.
Most of all, Wyndy was drawn to the rich soil, the drainage it provided, and the property’s proximity to water. The hand-planting of Oxford Landing Estate Vineyard (originally known as Yalumba River Estate) was a hands-on affair that provided residents of the nearby town of Waikerie with much-needed employment and a sense of pride that still exists today.
Back then, the grapes were planted for use in fortified wine and brandy production – all the rage in the 50 and 60s. Wyndy’s decision to plant Cabernet Sauvignon was a game changer. At the time it was one of the larger single vineyard plantings of Cabernet in the state.
When Wyndy’s son Robert Hill-Smith launched the Oxford Landing wine brand in 1990, it was the culmination of 30 years of hard work. The vineyard and brand were aptly named after the precious patch of land they call home. Wyndy was there for the launch and by all accounts, it was a proud moment. His legacy remains in the hands of a capable, dedicated team who produce quality, affordable wine for wine lovers around the globe.