Meet Chester Osborn of d'Arenberg
Chester Osborn, Chief Winemaker at d’Arenberg Wines, is undoubtedly a colourful character. A much-loved McLaren Vale local, Chester has an infectious passion for wine, art and life in general, and we sat down with him to get to know his favourite board game, career highlights, and so much more.
What is your favourite thing about being a winemaker?
Definitely the blending of wines is a bit part of it. Seeing and tasting grapes in the vineyards and tasting the ferments of the skins are some of my favourite things, but selling it is fun too! I love coming up with different names and labels.
If you weren’t a winemaker, what would you be?
I used to say a rock star but I am a bit old for that now!! I was always interested in photography, I won The Best Black and White photograph in Australia in 1978, but it definitely would have been something creative. I love art, I enjoy being artistic, and so if I weren’t a winemaker, I would dedicate more time to that.
What are some of your most memorable career highlights?
Having our wines consistently win many accolades around the world is always a highlight. Robert Parker once said that I was one of the 20 most influential people in wine, that was pretty memorable! Opening the d’Arenberg Cube was also a highlight, it was a dream come true.
Why should people visit the McLaren Vale wine region?
To visit the d’Arenberg Cube as a start! It is a beautiful region with outstanding views, and it is also only a few kilometres away from some of the best beaches in the country with warm, still waters. Plus, there are 48 restaurants in the area, catering to all tastes, and there are lots of small wineries around where the winemaker themselves work in the cellar doors. These are fantastic to visit, you can chat with passionate winemakers who have such a diverse portfolio of wines and of course you can taste the great wines! The people are friendly too!
The d’Arenberg Cube is a big attraction in South Australia. What’s your favourite thing about it?
I love all of the artwork in the d’Arenberg Cube as each piece has a meaning relating to wine and our process and history, from the building itself to the Alternate Realities Museum and the Tasting Room.
What does a normal day in the life of a winemaker look like?
Very busy!! There is a lot of sampling tastings, blending, tasting ferments, and tasting grapes in the vineyards. I also host a lot of visitors, and of course there are the new art installations and pieces to work on. Travel comes into it as well; I do approximately four overseas trips every year.
What advice would you give to those thinking about entering the wine industry?
You will have a lot of fun! Be prepared to learn a lot as the wine industry is very diverse. An outgoing and extrovert personality is a bonus too. Always remember that making wine is like art, it’s about trial and error and creativity is the key.
What’s your favourite quote?
Our crest has the quote “Wine is Life” in Latin. It’s simple, but it describes d’Arenberg’s philosophy.
If you had to pick a favourite wine at d’Arenberg, which one would it be?
I am often asked this question and I can’t pick a favourite wine. Each of our wines are like my babies and different wines suit different occasions.
The Derelict Vineyard Grenache 2014 is our wine of the month – what makes this such a standout?
Grenache is an amazing resource in McLaren Vale and this wine is an exceptional example of how Grenache from McLaren Vale can look. We are lucky to have some of the oldest Grenache in McLaren Vale. The Derelict Vineyard comes from dry grown old vines. Back in 1985, people were paid $2000 a hectare to pull up their old vine Grenache, but they took the money and didn’t pull up the vines because they thought they would just rot away. Without irrigation and fertilizer, the vines really struggled, but they didn’t die off and the quality of the grapes was outstanding. This taught me to treat our Grenache vines in the same way, and the result is a really lovely gritty wine with fragrant length and elegance, yet with great structure.
We have paired it with a delicious choc pudding. What do you enjoy pairing it with?
I love to pair Grenache with Lamb, any style of lamb. But Grenache also goes well Asian cuisine, as it stands up to spice well. It’s a great food wine!
Your wine is part of our fantastic Chef & the Cellar Calendar Collection. Why should wine lovers buy this pack?
Well it represents fantastic value for money. Each of the wines in the pack has been carefully selected – and of course, because it contains d’Arenberg wines!
You’re also well-known for your passion for shirts! How many do you have and what’s your favourite?
We did a competition a few years back and the count was 365 – one for every day of the year. Now it will be closer to 400. I have so many favourites that I couldn’t pick just one!
Do you prefer drinking or making wine?
I couldn’t give up making wine…but I couldn’t give up drinking wine either. I think drinking wine and making wine go hand in hand. You can’t make wine without drinking it.
What’s your ultimate wine and food match?
This changes regularly. Yesterday I had a bottle of The Lucky Lizard Chardonnay 2017, which paired beautifully with the Prawn Ravioli and Lobster bisque at d’Arry’s Verandah Restaurant.
What is your favourite…
Board game: Cards Against Humanity if you can call that a board game!
Weekend activity: Entertaining friends and drinking great wines, whilst dancing and listening to Pink Floyd.
Food: I really enjoy degustation dining, alternative dishes like we have here at the d’Arenberg Cube Restaurant, think Heston Blumenthal food, anything that blends and fuses different cultures and cuisines.
Colour: That’s easy – RED – the loudest and most invigorating colour for conversation, passion and life.