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Wirra Wirra buys Adelaide Hills star

McLaren Vale producer Wirra Wirra has stepped up its interest in the Adelaide Hills by acquiring highly regarded Pinot Noir producer Ashton Hills.

Wirra Wirra managing director Andrew Kay announces the deal

Covering just three hectares of vineyard 570 metres up in the Piccadilly Valley, Ashton Hills was founded in 1982 by Stephen George, whose other interests include several decades as consulting winemaker for big name Clare Valley estate Wendouree.

Wirra Wirra has been making white wine from Adelaide Hills fruit since 2003 – its current portfolio includes a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Riesling and botrytis Semillon from the region – but this latest move allows the company to work with cool climate Pinot Noir.

The deal, which was announced last week, will see George remain at his home next to the winery and continue to work with the Wirra Wirra winemaking and vineyard team as a mentor.

Wirra Wirra managing director Andrew Kay said: “The chance to build upon the legacy of Stephen’s work was too good to pass up and for it to happen not only with his blessing, but also his ongoing contribution, is incredibly satisfying for us.”

Meanwhile George expressed his “definite rapport” with the Wirra Wirra team, declaring: I believe the legacy of Ashton Hills is in safe and sensitive hands.”

Commenting on his new advisory role, he remarked: “I’m looking forward to helping them work through a long list of opportunities that I have compiled over the years, that lack of time and resources have prevented me from undertaking as a ‘one man band’.

For the moment, Wirra Wirra will continue to produce its own Adelaide Hills range, although Kay did not rule out expanding this offer under the Ashton Hills brand.

“Ashton Hills 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,” he said. “However for now it’s business as usual.”

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