Metala Wines Return to the Fold
The original family behind the iconic Metala name have reclaimed their birthright with a renewed brand and a resurrected emphasis on authentic Langhorne Creek winemaking.
Guy Adams has a story to tell. Only, it’s not just his story. And it’s not a new story. It’s a generational story of triumph, loss, and redemption. Of hard work, and changing fortunes. It’s the story of Metala Wines, and its resurrection as an iconic Australian wine brand.
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The Metala William Formby Cabernet Sauvignon wine pays homage to Metala's founder.
Originally founded in 1882 by William Formby, who purchased the now-historic Metala estate in Langhorne Creek after 40 years as a pioneering emigrant from the UK, Metala played a seminal role in the development of the region as holder of its oldest Shiraz and Cabernet vines, planted by William and his son, Arthur.
Their efforts helped establish Langhorne Creek as a red wine-producing region of note, producing quality expressions in the estate’s purpose-built winery.
By the early 1950s, however, its winemaking had been transferred to Stonyfell Winery in Adelaide under the aegis of Arthur’s brother-in-law. For a time, things went well, with the Metala Cabernet Shiraz 1961 taking home the inaugural Jimmy Watson Trophy. The brand seemed poised to dominate the landscape of Australian wine for decades to come. Then, just 20 years later in 1972, the unexpected happened. Stonyfell was sold, and it was revealed the family had not registered the Metala name, which went with the sale. Divorced from its own provenance, the label would pass hands from one owner to the next over the following 50 years.
The historic Metala Cabernet Shiraz 1961 (right), winner of the first ever Jimmy Watson Trophy.
The prodigal son of Metala Wines returns to roots
In 1981, Guy Adams – William’s great-great-grandson and fifth-generation vigneron – took over management of the label’s mixed farm estate, and with his wife Liz began a 20-year battle to once more produce Metala wines in its original home of Langhorne Creek.
“Growing up on the property, hearing the stories of my grandparents, seeing the old pictures, I quickly developed an inherent, internal desire to ensure my legacy was one that returned Metala back to the family,” says Guy.
His mission took on new urgency in 2017, when Metala’s then-owners made the decision to focus on quantity over quality, and stopped taking fruit from the label’s vineyards. “Seeing Metala wine on the shelf knowing there was no Metala fruit in the wine was a real insult,” Guy recounts.
But by mid-2022, Guy’s long-held dream became reality. He’d succesfully negotiated the return of Metala to its founding family, relaunching the brand with 100% estategrown Langhorne Creek fruit – a homecoming long overdue for such an iconic name.
“Metala is home to some of Australia’s oldest vines and has a fascinating family story,” says noted Australian wine writer and critic Winsor Dobbin. “Every time you take a sip of a Metala wine you are enjoying a little slice of Australian wine history.” A new chapter in that history has now opened.
Metala Wines' Langhorne Creek vineyards are home to Australia's oldest Shiraz vines, and the world's oldest family-owned Cabernet vines.
Metala Wines' legacy reborn
Indeed, as home to the oldest family-owned Cabernet vines in the world, Metala is now better positioned than it has been for over half a century to deliver Australian red wine lovers expressions of true provenance and quality, from their Metala range to signature wines like the Metala William Formby Shiraz and Cabernet, and the flagship Semper Fidelis Shiraz and Cabernet; single vineyard wines from 1891 plantings.
Generous, elegant and complex, each wine has a story to tell – always faithful to their ancestral source, and to the generations that can now follow once more in their forerunners’ footsteps. “Even at 131 years’ old,” says Guy, “we are only just beginning.”
Rediscover the magisterial charms of Metala’s wines today at metala.com.au